October 27, 2021
How-to

Save time and money using automatic bill payments for your business

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Regardless of the size of your business, paying bills is an integral part of your month-end book closing checklist. But for far too long, this process has been marred with inefficiencies and archaic processes, like cutting paper checks and mailing them. 


Unfortunately, these cumbersome processes can become a big hassle as both your company and your bill pay checklist grow larger. But there are better, more efficient ways to tackle this critical task. 


You can automate bill payments in two ways: 


  • Using AI-powered software to scan invoices for line items, vendor payment details, and more to speed up your month-end book closing. 
  • Setting up autopay on everyday business expenses such as rent, SaaS software, and other fixed monthly payments. 


Read on to learn how automating bill payments for your business can help prevent errors and save your business time and money. Topics covered in this article:


What is automatic bill payment? 

Typically, once they receive an invoice, bill payment for businesses goes something like this: 

 

  1. Receive invoice 
  2. Manually enter invoice details into your accounting software of choice
  3. Confirm payment details and send for approval
  4. Manually process payments and cut paper checks
  5. Go back to accounting software to verify journal entries and mark bills as paid
  6. Repeat for all invoices
  7. Close your books 


This process can easily require up to 15 minutes per bill and possibly longer if there are errors. So imagine you have 20 bills to pay at the end of the month: that’s 300 minutes or 5 hours solely devoted to processing invoices and paying bills! Not only is this unsustainable, but it can also cost many hours of productivity and, ultimately, money. 


Enter automated bill payments. 


Typical bill pay process



With automatic online bill pay, you simply upload an invoice you receive from a vendor and let AI work its magic. In a few seconds, you’ll have a generated bill with appropriate line items and payment details. All that’s left is for you to review, approve, and schedule a payment. 


Alternatively, autopay allows you to set up a bill with your payment details and reliably pay every month on time. Not only does this save you time, but it also gives you the peace of mind to know that all of your bills are getting paid when they should be. 

What are the benefits of setting up automatic bill payments? 

It’s hard to overstate the many advantages that come with switching to this form of finance automation. Here are a few of those benefits: 

Save time


It’s no surprise that the manual process of paying bills can occupy an unreasonable amount of time for finance teams. Not only do invoices have to be manually uploaded one by one, but you also have to go through the trouble of writing paper checks and mailing them. 


And we haven’t even mentioned the time it takes to individually review each invoice on a regular basis to make sure everything checks out.


With automatic bill pay, it’s as simple as uploading your invoice and letting software handle the rest. No more copying over line items one at a time, saving you precious time to spend on more critical tasks like empowering your employees, ironing out your budget, or reducing operational costs


And with autopay, all you have to do is submit your payment details once, and you’re done—allowing you to pay your fixed expense bills in the background.

Save money


Paying your bills manually could cost you more than the total listed at the bottom of the invoice. Why? Because not only is physically mailing checks expensive and inconvenient, it can be a very mistake-prone process. 


It’s human nature to make errors. But when those errors include paying the same vendor twice or adding an extra zero to a check, those mistakes end up costing your business one of the most precious liquid assets: cash. 


And on the autopay front, you can count on accuracy without sacrificing speed, expediting what was once a prolonged process. Plus, if you use a card, you’ll get rewards like cashback just for paying your bill!

Pay bills on time 


As a small business owner or finance team, you already have so many things to worry about day-to-day. From financial management strategies to making sure your cash flow is healthy to managing a new wave of remote employees, all of these fall on a list of priority to-do items. 


But how can you focus on those high-impact tasks when you have to dedicate hours every month to paying bills manually? 


Setting up automatic bill payments saves you precious time that you can reinvest into your business. It also prevents troublesome late payments, which can result in overdraft fees on your checking account or debit card, damage your credit score, and increase your interest rates. It’s as simple as setting up autopay to ensure your bills get paid automatically or using AI-software to check invoices for accuracy and send them for approval.


No more wasted hours laboring over manual uploads to accounting software and cutting paper checks. Now, you can be sure monthly bills will be paid on their due date and avoid late fees. 

It’s secure


One of the riskiest parts of paying bills manually and writing paper checks is that you need to mail them. You’ve probably heard a story or two about a piece of mail that got lost in transit.


But when that piece of mail is a bill, the stakes are much higher, and the loss is more significant. And as the USPS struggles with ever-growing mail delivery times, shipping checks can be a considerable risk and result in lost mail casualties.


With automatic bill payments using cards, those worries are a thing of the past. No more paper checks to get lost or stolen in the mail. Built-in merchant controls and high levels of encryption on modern corporate cards ensure that the only person getting paid is your intended recipient. 


Which bills should you set to autopay? 

Automatic bill payments can provide many benefits for businesses. But just because it’s a good solution doesn’t mean it’s a one-size-fits-all fix, especially when it comes to specific types of bills. 


For example, you may want to consider putting expenses like SaaS software, charge or credit cards, or anything that tends to have a fixed cost per month on autopay using a corporate card like Ramp, which gives you 1.5% cashback. 


On the other hand, expenses that can vary from month to month, like utility bills or vendors, should be reviewed before payment. Why? Since these bills fluctuate, if they jump significantly month-to-month, you’ll want to have an opportunity to review why. You can use AI software like Ramp Bill Pay to speed up that review.


So when you’re deciding whether to add something to autopay, consider if it’s a constant, relatively predictable expense with a fixed cost or one that varies from month to month.


Best practices for automating bill payments

For businesses of all sizes, automatic bill payments can be like a lifeline–saving precious time and resources. But like any other system, there are some best practices to keep in mind when using them for your business. 

Regularly audit your bill payments


Just because your bills are being automated doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t check in on recurring payments to make sure everything looks accurate. You should plan on auditing both your fixed and variable-cost bill payments frequently, to look for any errors, redundancies, and more–particularly if you’re using autopay.


With variable expenses, the reason is clear: you want to make sure you don’t end up getting charged more than what you bargained for. With fixed costs, you’ll want to regularly check in to make sure that a bill hasn’t suddenly increased without your knowledge. If not, you can be in for some sticker shock. 


Ramp Bill Pay will automatically check for variable and fixed-cost bills such as vendors to see if you’ve accidentally paid a bill twice and look for duplicate spending across categories, giving you a good idea of where your finances stand. 

Use tools that offer real-time visibility of your expenses 

Just like doing regular audits of your bill payments can give you better insight into your finances, having real-time visibility into your expenses can help you tenfold. When looking for expense management software, be sure to look for one that offers real-time, up-to-the-minute tracking so that you have a clear understanding of your financial picture. 


If not, you’ll be forced to rely on old data that’s always a few steps behind. 

Use a secure virtual card

Today, you can never be too secure. If you want to add an extra layer of security to autopay, be sure to use a virtual card. With Ramp, you can create an unlimited number of virtual cards to pay your bills. Even better, you have total control over the way that these cards are spent. 


Not only can you set up merchant restrictions so that cards are spent appropriately, you can also issue spend limits to protect you from erroneously overcharged bills, as well as usage and frequency limits. 


Ramp merchant restrictions example


All of these controls ensure that if you set up a virtual card for a specific purpose and amount, it will never be charged outside of the parameters you set. 


How to automate bill processing with Ramp

If you’re a QuickBooks to Xero user, you can quickly and easily process your bills with Ramp’s software, saving you time and money. Here’s a walkthrough:


Ramp bill pay process


Step #1: Upload an invoice or forward it to our dedicated inbox 


With Ramp Bill Pay, all you have to do is upload an invoice or email it to our inbox. Then just sit back and watch the magic happen. Our AI will automatically pull all relevant information from your invoices like vendor names, line items, and due dates. 


Step #2: Review flags for duplicate invoices


Our system will automatically flag any invoices that appear to be duplicated, saving you from costly errors. 


Ramp duplicate invoice notification



Step #3: Receive vendor bank account information 


If the vendor did not list their ACH information on the invoice, Ramp will reach out to them automatically and remind them to send details on their bank or financial institution to complete payment processing. And for even more peace of mind, Ramp will release payments even if the vendor submits their payment details after the due date.


Step #4: Route bill for approval 


Bill payments then get routed for approval based on spend amounts, ensuring that the right people have visibility. Once the payment is approved, it’s scheduled to be paid on the due date. 


No more daily log-ins by finance heads to release payments. 


Example of routing a bill for approval in Ramp


Step #5: Pay bills by card, check, or ACH


When you pay bills with your Ramp card, you earn 1.5% cashback, saving you money in the process. And if a vendor doesn’t accept card payments, you can opt to pay via ACH.

Once the vendor passes our risk check, payments can be issued in as little as two business days. 


Ramp interface showing bills paid by ACH, Ramp card, or check


Step #6: Automatically sync bills with QuickBooks and Xero and categorize line items


Ramp automatically adds new bills to your general ledger, increasing your real-time visibility into your business expenses. Ramp even matches line items to the relevant GL accounts, saving you even more time.




With Ramp, automated payments are easy as 1, 2, 3 

Paying bills can be a huge pain point for businesses. But with Ramp’s corporate card and bill pay, that process has become much more manageable. Now you can pay your bills 15x faster, saving your business time and money. 


Move on from the old way of paying your bills with Ramp. Ready to try it out? Learn more and sign up for Ramp today. 

No credit checks or founder guarantee, with 10-20x higher limits.
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Luis Gonzalez
Content Marketing Manager, Ramp

As a Content Marketing Manager, Luis tackles content planning and ideation while constantly brewing over SEO opportunities. Before Ramp, he worked on content for Audible and WeWork.

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