Five Advantages of Online Banking
Banking from the comfort of your sofa makes everything you do with your finances a bit easier. More and more banks allow you to deposit checks by simply taking a picture of the check with your phone. You can access your banking information anywhere that you have access to the Internet, on your computer or mobile device.
You may decide to switch your accounts to an online-only bank in the future. These banks offer most of the same advantages online as a traditional bank, but online-only banks have no physical branch locations. While this might seem like an issue, online-only banks offer a few benefits that might make it worth the trade-off.
Pay Your Bills Online
You can use your bank's online site to pay your bills and protect yourself from having your check get lost in the mail. Most banks will have a section in which you set up payees. You will need to fill out the information once, and then you can simply choose that profile every time you pay a bill online.
If your bank will not pay bills online, you may consider paying through the company's website. Be careful since some of these companies may charge a convenience fee. Some places will charge a fee for a debit card, but not if you set up a direct debit.
If you access your bank's website on your mobile phone, the bank's app typically allows you to deposit checks with just a snapshot of the document. This means that you can handle all of your banking without ever going to the bank. However, keep your eyes open for any convenience fees associated with online bill pay.
View Your Transactions
Online banking allows you to access your account history and transactions from anywhere. This is the quickest way to check and see if a transaction has cleared your account. You can also find out the amount of a transaction after you have lost your receipt. It also allows you to find out about unauthorized transactions more quickly, helping you resolve any issues right away.
Some banks will show you pending transactions. These are transactions that you made that day. If you spot something you did not authorize, you can contact your bank and the vendor in order to reverse the charges. The sooner you catch a problem like this, the more quickly you can resolve it. Pending transactions may not be for the exact amount of the purchase. For example, if you leave a tip, this will not show on the pending transaction, so keep that in mind as you balance your account.
Transfer Money Between Accounts
Online banking also allows you to transfer money between accounts much more quickly and check on your available funds before spending money. It is more convenient than using the automated phone service and can save you a trip to the bank.
When you apply or set up your online banking, be sure that all of the accounts you have at the bank are listed. This will make it easier to transfer money and make loan payments online.
You also have the option of transferring money between different banks online. This will not happen as quickly since the money still needs to go between financial institutions, but it is much more convenient than running to the bank.
Depending on the type of account, your bank may limit the number of online transfers and may hit you with a fee if you go over.
You can also use online banking to manage your money better by setting up more than one savings account at the same bank. Not all banks offer this, so check around.
After each paycheck, for example, you can go online and transfer money to different savings accounts to save for various goals, such as an emergency fund or a down payment for a new home.
Most banks will have a mobile app that allows you to take advantage of online banking on your phone. This makes online banking even more convenient and allows you to quickly check up on your account when you are out shopping, transfer funds over if you're short, or check to see if a merchant has double-charged you.
However, you need to be sure you are accessing this information on a secure network and avoid using public WiFi while completing these transactions. Mobile banking makes online banking even easier.
Syncing With Your Money Applications
Many money apps will automatically sync with your online banking information. This makes sticking to your budget much easier. Apps will often work both on your home computer and your mobile device so you can stay up-to-date while you are on the go. It is also easier to track your spending for your budget if you are using one of these apps.
It's becoming much less common to receive paper statements, but it is still important to balance your account to your bank each month to prevent you from overdrawing your account. If your bank is small, it may not offer the syncing function, but you can still update your accounts each day by logging on and entering your accounts manually.
One of the best uses is that you can sync spending in real time so that if you and your partner shop separately, you do not overspend without realizing it.
All of the above benefits apply to both traditional banks with an online presence and online-only banks.
One of the most enticing features of online-only banks is the higher interest you'll receive on your savings and other financial products such as CDs. These banks have much less overhead to pay, and they pass the savings on to their customers. Other benefits include:
- Lower service and maintenance fees than you would pay with a traditional bank
- No bank branches, which means you might save more because you can't walk into a branch to get cash
- Good or even great customer service, because online banks dedicate a lot of their financial resources to data collection and ongoing customer-facing process improvements
- Doing your part to preserve resources by going with online-only banking, because traditional banks use a lot more resources, such as paper and electricity, among others, compared to online-only banks
Protect Yourself Online
It is important to be careful when banking online as you do not want your safety or privacy to be breached. It is important to clear the cookies after each banking session if you are at a public computer.
Additionally, make sure that your password is long enough to prevent it from being hacked and never give your online account information to someone who is not an authorized signer. You should make sure to protect your password, especially if you have roommates. Also, check your credit report regularly. These steps should protect you from identity theft.
Take the time to make the necessary precautions, and monitor your account regularly for fraudulent charges