Consumer Tips: How to Get Started with Online Banking

Tuesday 27 January 2004 20:37 CET | News

The popularity of online banking is growing, with millions of people enjoying the simplicity of seeing up-to-the-minute balances, reviewing cleared checks and paying bills, whenever its convenient. But how do you get started?
First, go to bank Web sites and test their online banking demonstrations. Here are some things to look for: 1. Make sure its easy to sign up and use online banking - Check if you can log-on from the home page, or if you have to search through a lot of other pages. - Find out what information you need to sign up, such as your account number. - See if you can check your balances and start paying bills within minutes. - Make sure its easy to find what youre looking for. - Ask whether customer service is available by phone, e-mail or at a local branch. 2. Be sure you get plenty of online features - Basics: You should be able to see your account statements online, either for your checking account or your credit card. You also should be able to review check images and deposit slips. - Immediate information: Check if you can see up-to-the-minute balances. You should be able to make a withdrawal from an ATM, for example, and see the transaction online immediately. Not all banks have this feature, which can help you manage your account. - Service: Make sure you can change your address, order new checks and transfer money online. - Bill payment: Many banks let you pay a business or individual online, but you also should be able to get a confirmation number automatically. - Also check if you can schedule payments for certain times and pay bills with your credit card. - Receive bills: You should be able to get paper or electronic versions - bills. At Bank of America, you can receive electronic bills from more than 300 companies. - Other: See if you can learn about and apply for credit cards, new accounts, loans or mortgages online. 3. Questions? Check on customer service - Be sure you can get customer service in the way you prefer, whether by phone, online, e-mail or in person at a local branch. - Ask whether theres a customer service center devoted to online banking. - See whether there are calculators and other information to help you make decisions about products and services. 4. Ensure security - Make sure the bank provides secure socket layer, or SSL security, as well as encryption. - Check if the bank provides a financial guarantee against fraud. Bank of America, for example, provides a zero liability guarantee. - Learn what you can do to protect yourself: dont share passwords and personal information; remember to log off after an online banking session; and check your account often so youll see unauthorized activity right away. 5. Dont pay for what can be free - Check how much online banking will cost. Some banks, including Bank of America, offer the service for free, without conditions such as account balances or introductory offers. - Figure out how much youll save with online banking. If you write 12 checks a month, youd save $53 a year in stamps. If you tend to forget about paying bills and have late fees, automatic online bill payment could save you even more. Online banking is growing In a study released in December, the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that online banking increased by 127 percent between 2000 and 2002, more than any activity it studied. In March 2000, just 15 million people tried some form of online banking. By October 2002, the number increased to 34 million, according to the study. Bank of America saw the growth continue in 2003, from 4.7 million active online customers to 7.2 million - an increase of 2.5 million. The bank leads in the industry in number of active customers, as well as the sites ease of use.

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Categories: Banking & Fintech | Online & Mobile Banking
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Banking & Fintech