Through online banking, your computer becomes your financial center for everything from balance transfers to new accounts.
Getting Started With Online Banking
If you are new to online banking, there are some issues to consider before you sign up for an account.
Advantages and Disadvantages
When banking through the Internet, you aren't confined by some of the concerns you might have about a standard bank. You're free to look for the services and features that most interest you instead of worrying about whether the local branch is on your way to work. Online banks make it easy to compare potential accounts and investment plans. You can consider interest rates, fees and account minimums before committing to a bank. There can also be disadvantages to online banking. If you use ATMs frequently, transaction fees can eat away at your savings, making an online bank less attractive. If your place of employment doesn't offer direct deposit, cashing or depositing your paycheck can be a hassle when there isn't an actual bank building to visit.
Types of Online Banking
There are various levels of online banking. Some bank customers access online bank statement from traditional banks when they want to check on a single transaction. Others use their bank's website to open new accounts and transfer money between them when they can't make it to their local branch. Since online banking can be a bit overwhelming for the uninitiated, think about your comfort level before making any decisions. Are you comfortable working with a purely online bank, or do you prefer online account access from a local bank that you can still visit in person?
Banking Online With Your Bank
If you don't care to create an account with an online bank, but still wish to take advantage of Internet banking, you first need to find your bank's website. It will most likely be featured on a recent statement or other communication from the bank, or you can search for it online. Once you visit the site, log in with your account number. Some sites allow you to create a password immediately, while others make you request one for added security, and this code is mailed to the address on file with the bank. After you've created or received a password, you're ready to take advantage of online account access. You can check your balance, make sure a check has cleared, and transfer money between your checking and savings accounts.
Security is vital when taking part in online banking. Always make sure you are logging in to a secure website when accessing financial information. Look for the "https" designation before the site URL or a lock logo to know your information is protected. You don't want your personal data to be accessible to identity thieves.
Make sure you're dealing with a legitimate online bank before turning over sensitive data and money. You can read an online bank's "About Us" page to get a feel for their history and stability. Be wary of websites whose name or URL is similar to that of a well-respected financial institution. They could be trying to lure you into trusting them and giving them your personal information. You should also look for the FDIC logo. All legitimate banks, online or otherwise, are insured by FDIC, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. This means all deposits up to a certain limit, often $100,000, are protected in case of bank closure or other problems. FDIC offers a Bank Find service, allowing you to confirm an online bank's insured status if you're still unsure.