If you’re trying to track your bills and avoid late fees, your iPhone and a few iOS apps might save you some money. Some apps and web services will remind you of your bills and trim your budget.
The Obvious Solution: Automatic Bill Payments
With either a credit card or your bank’s bill payment service, a bill tracking app might be overkill. Today you can pay most bills automatically through a credit card. Then the credit card company can automatically deduct the bill from your bank account. For many people, remembering to pay bills isn’t a problem.
The target market for these apps are people who don’t pay bills automatically because of cash flow. Automatic bill payment is risky if you don’t have enough reserves to pay your bills. If an automatic payment happens before you have enough money, the payment will bounce causing more fees.
Mint and Mint Bills for iOS: The Intuit Solution
We covered Mint as a budgeting app, but they also have a bill tracking service called Bills. Mint will already warn you when a bill is due in the Bill Reminders section if you track most of your accounts with them. Bills lets you add a bill that doesn’t show up in Mint, especially if you aren’t an active Mint user.
Once you sign up for Bills with your Mint credentials, you’ll add your regular bills to the site. Mint’s budgeting and bills section don’t read from each other. If you want to add a bill, you’ll enter the vendor’s credentials. Mint requires this step even if the vendor (like a credit card) is already in Mint’s budgeting.
Mint’s reminders show up on mobile devices, but not the option to pay them. You’ll need Mint’s Bills and Money app for that feature. Once a bill is due, the app lets you pay it. It even creates a receipt and stores it for you. If you pay the bill from your bank account, Mint doesn’t charge. If you need to pay a bill with a credit card, they charge a fee for that.
Bobby: An iOS App To Track Your Subscriptions and Regular Payments
Credit card bills are variable, but subscriptions don’t often change upon renewal. Subscriptions keep renewing until you tell them to stop. Bobby tracks all those bills in a fun and colorful way.
Find the service you get a regular bill for and add it to Bobby. Tap in the cost and tap Add. The bill is there. Tap it again and customize the billing cycle (monthly, yearly), when the first bill is due, how long the subscription is for, and when you’d like reminding.
I picked Backblaze as a good example. That’s already billed to my credit card, but I want to make sure to check my card hasn’t changed at the time of renewal. This app is handy when you’re on a trial subscription somewhere. Bobby will remind you to cancel before they start charging you.
If the service isn’t on the list, they’ll let you add a custom account.
Bobby lets you add four subscriptions for free. After that, it is an in-app purchase of 99 cents. If you delete a subscription, it doesn’t count towards that limit.
AskTrim: Cut Out Unwanted Subscriptions
AskTrim is a web and SMS service that monitors your budget for potentially unwanted stuff. If you’re looking to cut some fat from your budget, AskTrim is the answer. It looks for recurring charges and suggests possible cutbacks or cancellations. They don’t have an iPhone app.
Instead, when you sign up for an AskTrim account it links to your bank accounts and credit cards just like Mint’s Bill service. Once it finds some bills, it texts you suggestions for potential cancellations. They put that information on the web app. If you want to cancel a service, just select cancel or text them back and they’ll take care of it.
I didn’t try the cancel function, but they’ll do it for free. If they have to call or send a letter, they charge a small fee. With horror stories of people trying to cancel cable accounts, AskTrim could come in handy.
Why Not Just Use the Reminders Or Calendar App?
That’s what I usually do (although I do it in Evernote). Some people need a little more incentive. Since these apps are free, you can do both. That way you have more than one reminder to pay a bill. I like keeping my AskTrim subscription active and using Bobby to track critical subscriptions or stuff I need to cancel.