I was recently posted a comment to another ‘blog where online banking was touched on. That prompted me to talk here a little bit about this service, which I feel will become the standard in our lifetime.
Online banking, which should also include direct deposit, ATM, and Debit card, in addition to the traditional, online access to your account, bill payment, and paperless statements and correspondence, is a definite, “win-win” for both you and whatever institution you deal with. They win, because they are able to cut back on some of the expenses that traditional brick-and-mortar branching presents, which can either mean increased profits, (banks) or increased investment into other products or services, (credit unions). A smart consumer wins because they have more convenience and access. How much more convenient can it be when you have access to your account at 4:00 am, on Sunday?
Like anything else, there are some things to be cautious of when dealing with online banking. First, you are putting a lot of your information out there for any identity thieves to be able to find. If you are not extremely careful about where you access your account, as well as what information you make available, you could easily be cleaned out, and because the Internet is widely anonymous, finding the criminal(s), (as well as your money) can be difficult. Additionally, some transactions that are relatively simple when done in an actual branch can become more difficult if the transaction is done online. However, if you are wise, regularly change your online access password, and use standard safety protection when accessing your accounts, you should be fine to use online banking. When using bill payment services, if you, like most of us, are living hand-to-mouth, you could also run the risk of drawing your account negative if you have automatic payments set up. On the other hand, if you don’t have them set up, you run the risk of forgetting a payment, which will also have bad consequences to you.
Personally, once I found the services, and learned how to use them, I have never looked back. The institution that I deal with allows a lot of account control that I like. I have my direct deposit going to one account, where I have a bill payment set up for automatic withdrawals of pre-set amounts into my other accounts. This takes away a lot of busy-work from my life, allowing me to focus on more important things. I also have most of my bills, (the ones that don’t vary in amount) set up to come out automatically. Not only does this save me the time in writing the checks and the price of postage, but it is also easier to track if there is a problem with them receiving payment.
If you decide to join the online banking bandwagon, look for a simple service, where you can easily understand and navigate the portal. Also, you want to make sure that the people who are there to answer your questions are familiar with the product. Do this by calling customer service and asking some questions and deciding how comfortable you are with their answers. Most importantly, make sure that the service you sign up for is free! As I said earlier, the bank or credit union are getting a bargain here too, they shouldn’t get even more by charging additional fees for you to access your own account.
Let me know some of your online banking triumphs and failure. If you have a good story, or a precaution, maybe others may have the same issue and are waiting for a resolution.