Last updated 1 August 2016

Bill Payment Options for Expats

Having a healthy bank account is all very well, but how do you ensure the utility bill or car expenses get paid back home when your existing banking support is unable to open the bill, read it to you and then ensure the payment is sent off?

Wells Fargo recently conducted a survey of US expats and their attitudes to banking, but what really shone through were the extraordinary demand for bill payment services and the general dissatisfaction with existing bill payment arrangements. 

Typical Arrangements for Expats 

This is a typical expat scenario for bill payment; prior to leaving their home country they arrange for bills to be taken care of by family members such as parents or siblings (almost 60%), or friends (30%). 

The remaining 10% of expats use bill payment services to manage bill payment, but over a third of respondents currently relying on family and friends to pay bills, indicated serious interest in online bill payment services. 

The issues with bill payment arise after the expat is in the new country because it is extremely difficult to remedy a situation from the other side of the world.  In many instances, what starts off as a friendly gesture to help you out with managing payments, turns into a chore or becomes more complicated than originally envisaged, or simply, people just don't want the additional responsibility as time goes by.  Remember, this arrangement may need to operate for several years and needs to be robust and reliable as well as flexible enough to handle changes in circumstances. 

Adverse Issues from Failing Bill Payment Arrangements 

The majority of expats will eventually repatriate after a spell overseas and take up their old life but hopefully, with accumulated capital and marketable career experience.  Imagine what your credit file will look like if you have a period of several years where you have been continuously late settling bills.  It is not going to look good no matter how much money you have in the bank – your credit rating will be blown and just when you need strong relationships with your bank and suppliers, i.e. when you move back home, you will find life very difficult as the phone company does not want to give you service, or getting a utility company to supply is difficult.  More importantly, getting a loan for home improvements or moving to a new residence is out of the question given your “bad” payment history.

Looking at the issue in this light reinforces just how important it is to get the bill payment issue resolved before you leave home. 

Bill Payment Solutions 

You need the ability to know what you are being billed and to make prompt payment as the bills fall due.  You will also need the ability to transfer funds between your banks, i.e. in your home and new country of residence, as well as switch foreign currency so you have sufficient funds to meet your obligations.

Online bill payment services allow for total control of your bills no matter where you are located.  As long as you can find an internet connection you can see what bills you have outstanding, and their payment status, without the hassle or stress.  Online bill payment services provide you with a robust and resilient solution to the thorny issue of controlling your finances from overseas and maintaining your credit rating and reputation in good health for when you return home. is here to help:

Compare multi currency current accounts that are specially tailored to meet the expatriates needs.

Compare foreign exchange companies to get the best rate when moving money overseas or making regular payments.

Photo: Fairfax County


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