Majority of Canadians have paid bills late – with consequences

Have you ever forgotten to pay a bill on time, missed the due date, or misplaced a bill?


Those who have are not alone. Here are the top three reasons that Canadians give for why they have missed paying their bills, according to the TD Canada Trust Everyday Bank­ing Poll. Canadians may be overlooking the implications of missed bill payments. A sur­prising 43% of respondents think there is no consequence if they miss a bill payment – that they just pay the overdue amount on their next bill.

"If you routinely miss your bill payments each month, it can impact your credit rating," said Carrie Russell, senior vice president of TD Canada Trust. "Missing payments by more than 30 days could influence your likelihood to secure a fut­ure loan or a credit card be­cause credit-granting com­panies look at past performance on bill payments as an indicator of future behaviour.

“It is essential to pay your bills on time. Why jeopardize your ability to access credit in the future?"

Fifty-four per cent of Cana­dians reported that they miss bill payments, but fortunately, of those who miss payments, 73% of Canadians miss paying their bills only one to three times per year.

"Paying interest and late charges on missed bills, even a few times a year, is like throw­ing money away," said Russell. "One of the easiest ways to save money and protect your credit score, is to pay bills on time and online. Make sure you have the right everyday bank account – it should include features and services that help make it easy for you to pay your bills on time, keep your payments organized, and avoid interest and late charges. If not, you should consider making a change."

Russell recommended five tips to avoid late bill payments:

– have bills sent electroni­cally. It can be easier to keep track of than stacks of paper. And it is more environ­mentally- friendly too.

– set-up pre-authorized withdrawals from everyday bank account for utilities and other bills;

– set up an automatic transfer to pay a credit card’s minimum or total balance each month so that you can be sure to never miss a payment;

– avoid the hassle and cost of finding envelopes, cheques and stamps by paying bills on­line or over the phone or at an ABM. That can easily save $50 a year;

– post-date online bill pay­ments for a few days before the due date to allow time for pro­cessing. Why give away your money before it is necessary?

How do Canadians pay their bills?

According to the banking poll, online banking is the most popular method of paying bills, particularly for Canadians un­der the age of 50. Seventy-five per cent of those 18-to-29 pay their bills online and 78% of those 30-to-49 pay their bills online. The second most popular form of payment is by a pre-authorized pay­ment from a chequing account (58%).

Although the majority of Canadians choose to pay their bills online, 91% of them still receive their bills by mail.

And 20% of Canadians say they still prefer to pay bills by cheque, and 11% say that pay­ment over the phone is their pre­ferred method. Thirty-six per cent pay their bills at a bank branch. Canadians 50 and over prefer the older methods of paying bills, with 28% paying bills by cheque and 45% pay­ing bills at their bank branch.

When do Canadians pay?

Only 36% of Canadians say they pay their bills as close to the due date as possible. Forty-two per cent pay bills as they come in, and 18% collect their bills each month and pay them at the same time.

Who pays the bills?

Sixty per cent of Canadians surveyed say that they are re­sponsible for paying the house­hold bills. Another 19% say that they share the respon­si­bility with their partner, and 13% say their partner pays the bills. Those 18-to-29 are most likely to say that someone else in the household pays the bills (26%), which perhaps could be a parent.

Among those married or living common-law, 37% say the bills are paid mainly by the wife, and 34% are paid mainly by the husband. Only 28% of couples say that they equally share the bill payments. Mar­ried and common-law women are most likely to say that they pay the bills most often (51%) and slightly fewer men say they pay the bills themselves (46%).

The TD Canada Trust Ev­ery­day Banking Poll surveyed 1,002 adult Canadians between May 18 to 26. Results for the study were collected through Environics Research Group’s national omnibus study.