The fastest, most convenient way to access one's bank account information, online banking has gained widespread acceptance for its ease, accessibility and security. From a home computer, users can log onto their bank account and initiate transactions 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Benefits of Online Banking
There are numerous reasons online banking has gained its reputation as the new way to bank. First, it's convenient. An account holder may access their information at anytime and from any computer connected to the Internet. Next, users can save the time and gas involved with driving to their local brick-and-mortar bank. Most importantly, online banking is increasingly secure. High regulation standards help in providing privacy and protection of account information.
With online banking, account holders also have access to a wide range of services. For instance, online banks offer their customers the ability to quickly review account information. Customers can view a summary for savings and checking or other accounts in one convenient location. Online banking also offers detailed account information, including payment histories, balances, and due dates on loans. Users may transfer monies between accounts, or in some cases, to other institutions where an account is held. Payments can be made on loans and customers may even calculate how much they can afford to borrow with an online loan calculator. Especially attractive, online banking allows customers to pay their bills, such as utilities and other obligations, from their home computer.
The bill pay feature has allowed customers to forego paying bills with checks, stamps, envelopes, and hassle. Customers can make payments to nearly anyone who would normally receive payment by way of a check. Both one-time and recurring payments can be set up with an online bank's bill pay service. Once a bill is received, users simply log onto their computer and schedules payment for any day of their choice. Payments are made on time, making bill paying easier than ever.
A very practical service for some online banking accounts is the option which allows banking access to family members or other persons specified by the account holder. This feature allows joint owners of accounts full or limited access to specific transactions, such as account balance inquiries, transfers, bill payments, and more. For instance, an account holder might give access to a son or daughter at college to allow transfers in specified amounts into a specific account. It's also useful for those who have someone sharing a repayment in a bill - giving them payment access to the bill pay service.
Another feature, online banking alerts, is sent to an email or cell phone via text message. Set up by a user based on preference, alerts provide instant information regarding an account balance or other transaction. For example, balance limit alerts are received when a balance goes above or below an amount the user has specified. Transaction alerts are received if a direct deposit is received, when a check clears, a withdrawal is made, or a purchase is made with a credit card. Alerts can also be set up to communicate bill payments that have been made.
With the phenomenal growth of online banking, banks continue to develop effective security features, creating peace of mind for customers and a wall of protection against identity theft. Users should always opt in for the additional security features offered by their bank. These programs may prompt a security question, such as a mother's maiden name, if it does not recognize the computer from which a user is accessing the account. Customers should also look for "https" in the URL as well as a locked padlock icon in the lower corner of the screen. Most importantly, personal identification numbers (PINs) that use a combination of random numbers and letters will be much harder for a hacker to break through.
Another security feature of online banking is that it can be monitored nearly in real time. For those who think online banking is risky, a recent study by a major research firm found that the average days it takes to detect fraud for online account holders is 18 days. For those who monitor accounts from their monthly statements, it took an average of 114 days before fraud was discovered. It's hard to deny that online banking is fast becoming the more secure way to handling and protecting finances.