Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles that our readers will find useful. We may receive a commission when you click on product links from our affiliate partners.

If you’re still standing in line at your local bank branch to transact or write checks and mail bills, it’s time to finally switch to online banking to streamline your finances and even save some cash. (not to mention a lot of time).

You may be reluctant to do your banking online due to issues like security, account management, or maybe you just don’t have a good understanding of how to use your bank’s app or website. Rest assured: online banking is secure and convenient, as long as you set up protections for your accounts.

Select spoke to experts on how to embrace technology and get comfortable online banking.

Subscribe to the Select newsletter!

Our best picks delivered to your inbox. Buy recommendations that help you improve your life, delivered weekly. Register here.

How can online banking streamline your banking experience?

Imagine not having to queue at the bank or scramble to find a stamp every time you need to pay a bill.

“Using online or mobile banking is convenient – you can bank just about anywhere,” says Erin Scheithe, senior program coordinator, consumer education with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). “You can check your account balances in real time, which can help you spot and report unauthorized charges faster. “

This technology allows you to deposit checks, pay bills and transfer funds securely and easily wherever you are. “Online and mobile banking allows you to manage your finances on your schedule,” says Scheithe.

This technology isn’t new, so late adapters don’t need to feel like digital pioneers.

“Online banking has been around for over a decade, and banks and credit unions are steadily improving their online and mobile experiences,” Scheithe continues.

What are the advantages of online banking?

When you bank online, you can enjoy the same benefits you get by visiting a physical branch, including the ability to deposit checks, open and close accounts, as well as pay bills, transfer money, etc. money and more.

And in some cases, you can even save money by switching to an online bank. When these banks don’t have to pay for commercial real estate, they often pass the savings on to customers in the form of lower fees.

Select reviewed the best free checking accounts and many of the best choices come from online banks. The Discover Cashback debit account, for example, offers customers 1% cash back on up to $ 3,000 in debit card purchases each month. That’s up to $ 30 in cash back per month and $ 360 per year.

While 1% is lower than the cash back rate you’d get with any of the best credit cards, it’s great for debit cards, which typically don’t offer rewards programs.

Discover being an online bank, there is no physical location. However, it does provide 100% US-based customer service representatives who are available 24/7 and access to over 60,000 free Allpoint and MoneyPass ATMs.

No minimum deposit is required to open a Discover Cashback debit account, and overdraft protection is free (which is hard to find).

How to start

If you’re thinking about trying online banking but dragging your feet, the first hurdle might be fear. It’s a valid concern, but your bank has sophisticated security features in place.

“Consumers should feel confident using their bank’s or credit union’s online banking platform as long as their devices are secure and they access the platform from their website. their bank, ”says Scheithe.

Experts suggest taking small steps to familiarize yourself with how online apps or portals work.

“You can easily use online banking services by regularly checking your account balances, depositing small payments [via your smartphone] and setting up automatic bill payments and direct deposits, ”says Alissa Van Volkom, Head of Deposits, Products and Consumer Payments at TD Bank. “These steps will help customers familiarize themselves with the online banking experience.

What can you do to maintain a high level of security?

There are steps you can take to make sure your accounts and personal information stay secure. Here is what you can do:

Beware of fraudulent schemes

If you receive emails or texts with links asking you to sign in to your online banking account, don’t click. Instead, go to the website that you know is correct and log in to avoid any phishing or other attempted fraud, explains Scheithe of the CFPB. And, if you have any questions about the emails you receive, you should call your bank or credit union to verify the messages you receive.

Be careful with your login credentials and passwords

To maintain the integrity of your accounts, be sure to create a unique username and secure password for your online banking account. Don’t share your password with anyone, and don’t choose predictable passwords like your date of birth, your pet’s name, or children’s names. You can also consider a service like LastPass, which can create a secure password for you.

Subscribe to account alerts

It is always beneficial to subscribe to account alerts so that you are informed of any transactions or connection attempts made on your account. “You can receive email, SMS and push notification alerts when there is a debit, refund or other transaction on your account, when a balance transfer or payment has been registered, to get the balance and the available credit limit amounts, when a payment is due, or when a payment has been recorded, ”says Sonali Divilek, head of digital products and channels at Chase.

Be an informed consumer

There are a myriad of documents available to understand how to protect your accounts. “On our website, we educate our customers about fraud and scams, SMS phishing attempts and how to avoid them, as well as additional tips,” says Divilek.

Create individual login credentials

Even if you share an account with a partner or family member, make sure you have separate access to your online or mobile banking system, Scheithe warns at CFPB. To further secure your account, take the time to add passwords to your digital devices. “Make sure your devices (computer, laptop, tablet and cell phones) are password protected or locked,” says Scheithe.

Use the educational resources of your banking institution

Your bank or credit unions may have videos or instructions on how to start online banking.

“If you’d like a little more help, consider making an appointment with a customer service representative at your local office – and don’t forget to bring your cell phone or tablet so you can download the app and ask. questions as you walk through the set-up, ”says Scheithe.“ Or call your bank’s customer support line. Many banks have dedicated staff who can answer questions about the online and mobile banking experience. “

What are the real benefits for consumers of adopting online banking?

Most banking services available to you Physical branches are offered through online banking services, including bill payments, wire transfers and deposits, and review of account balances. “Although we have seen early adoption of these services, the pandemic has further accelerated the adoption and digitization process,” said Van Volkom of TD Bank.

A good percentage of customers also stick with these services, she says, as they appreciate the efficiency, convenience and accessibility offered by online banking. “The benefits really boil down to meeting your financial needs wherever and whenever you want,” she says.

Catch up on Select’s in-depth coverage of personal finances, technology and tools, well-being and more, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

Editorial note: Any opinions, analysis, criticism or recommendations expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the editorial staff of Select and have not been reviewed, endorsed or otherwise approved by any third party.

Source link