The Internet has made banking a lot easier. Just about every bank allows you to check your account and make transactions online. In fact, if you want, you can do away with ever having to go to a bank again.
Automate Your Finances
Online banking allows you to automate a lot of your financial transactions. Here are some possibilities:
- Automatic Deposit. You can have your paycheck automatically deposited into your account. Ask your employer if this service is available where you work. It's a good idea, because you won't have to wait in line at the bank every time you get paid.
- Automatic Bill Pay. You can have your bank make automatic contributions to certain bills if you wish. Also, your bill collectors likely offer the service. Many prefer this method and will sometimes offer a cost break if you choose to use it. This can be a great convenience, but be careful. If your cash flow is sporadic, an automatic payment could kick in when you don't have enough funds, causing you to be penalized. Note that the new law limiting overdraft fees customers can be charged applies only to ATM withdrawals and debit card purchases, and not to automatic payments.
- Automatic Transfer. If you're trying to maintain a savings regimen, consider having a certain amount of your paycheck or checking account balance transferred into savings or an investment fund. It's easy to set up either online or at your local branch.
- Automate Your Records. Many online banking services are compatible with financial management software. You can have your account records imported regularly, and make balancing your checkbook quick and easy.
- Bank From Anywhere. With online banking, you can pay your bills and manage your accounts while at home in your pajamas. Or you can do it from anywhere in the world. Wherever you have an Internet connection, you have the ability to work with your money.
Some banks operate entirely online. They offer the same services as the bank in your neighborhood. But they don't have expenses such as keeping a bunch of branches open and fully staffed. That can translate into real savings - and even earnings - for you.
Without the costs of overhead, online banks can offer higher interest on savings and checking accounts. They also tend to offer lower fees and fewer restrictions on minimum balances and withdrawals.
One major downside of virtual banks is that they don't own their own ATMs. So if you need cash while you're on the run, you'll likely have to pay a fee to use some other bank's machine.