Last week, I renegotiated my plan with my cell phone company. That’s always a tedious, time-consuming task, but my carrier does offer one nice feature.

The easiest way to pay

I’ve written before about why bank drafts are the easiest way to collect payments. And I’ve followed that up not once, but twice with advice for how to get more customers to sign up for bank drafts.

Which brings me to my recent experience with my cell phone carrier. They offer customers who sign up for autopay – their term for bank drafts – a $5.00 credit per line.

Why offer an incentive?

Clearly, this company has recognized that enticing their customers to sign up for bank drafts is in their best interest.

For every customer who pays by bank draft, that’s one less mail payment, or worse yet, walk-in payment your staff has to handle. If you use a lockbox to process mail payments, this saves the per transaction fee for each customer that switches from mailing a check to paying by bank draft.

As a for-profit company in a very competitive market, my cell phone carrier doesn’t charge a convenience fee for credit card payments. If they can entice customers who historically pay by credit card to switch to paying by bank draft, they save themselves the credit card fees for those customers.

What’s a reasonable incentive?

I realize that $5.00 a month is more than most utilities can afford as an incentive, but what is realistic? I know of utilities who have tried both of these options:

  • a one-time $5.00 credit
  • a $1.00 credit for the first year the customer is on bank drafts

Both of these seem reasonable and may be all it would take to encourage a customer to sign up for bank drafts.