No two banks are the same. When it comes to your finances, you probably have a list of things that you need for your bank to have. An online bank can offer you the same amount of security as a brick and mortar bank with a lot less paper, but the list of services varies. So is online banking really more convenient? Here are some questions to determine if online banking would be a better fit for your lifestyle.
1) Do you have internet access?
The great news about online banking is that you can get inside your “bank lobby” anywhere that has an internet connection. Just make sure that you are able to use a computer with the internet as often as you need to check on your bank account. Even if your internet connection is down or you’re traveling, there are many wifi hot spots at local restaurants and coffee shops.
2) Do you use a debit card?
Checks are typically available through online banking, but you have to buy them. If you only use checks to pay your bills, you can switch to an online bill pay system very easily. A completely electronic bank brings you the most convenience when paired with an electronic form of payment.
3) Does your employer direct deposit your paycheck?
Obviously, online banking means that there won’t be any place for you to physically deposit your paycheck. The bank could still take care of it, but you probably don’t want to go through the hassle and delay of mailing your paycheck.
Most employers will deposit your paycheck directly into your account if you bring them your account number and the bank’s routing number (a number that is unique to each bank). If this is your current situation, online banking would be a great idea for you.
If you don’t currently use direct deposit, chances are that your employer has an option for you to do this, and switching is as simple as asking your employer to do so. Direct depositing your paycheck is worth saving the trip to the bank in most circumstances, whether you bank online or not.
4) Do you feel comfortable with online bill pay?
You can get checks from your online bank, but why bother? You can get checks from any other bank. One of the conveniences of banking online is being able to pay your bills automatically. You fill out a form online that says who you need to pay every month with the amount due, and the bank does it for you. Just be careful not to forget how much money is dedicated to bills and accidentally overdraw your account.
5) Do you use your bank’s “extra” services very often?
There are some other things that online banking can’t do for you, such as provide a cashier’s check or a notary. Most people don’t use these services enough for it to keep them away from the convenience and benefits of online banking. If your new landlord requires that you pay your first month’s rent with a cashier’s check, ask if they’ll take a debit card. If you need a document notarized, you can simply call your local title company or car dealership to find a notary.
In short, online banking can offer a world of convenience for those who live a more electronic lifestyle. If you find yourself dealing with a lot of paper, a traditional bank would better suit you. And remember, you can always change to the convenience of an electronic financial system when you’re comfortable with it.
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