Online Banking for Beginners

6 October 2011
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If you don’t already use online banking, it may seem like an advanced concept. In fact, the opposite is true. Being able to execute your banking needs and monitor your money online actually facilitates the banking process for you, especially on a day-to-day basis. If you’re a novice looking to change the way you bank, don’t worry. There are just a few foundational things you need to know about online banking.

Getting started is simple. Although you may need to make a trip to your existing and/or new bank, most banks allow you to set up your account either on the phone or through their websites – especially if you’re already using the bank for other services. You provide your personal and account information and then set up new data, like your username and password.

It’s often free. Opening an online checking or savings account may cost nothing for new and/or existing customers, depending on the company. Other benefits may include low minimum balances, fewer penalties, higher transactions limits or other perks. If you’re working with a bank that requires fees to transfer to online banking, you should bring that bank data from competitive banks to see if they can match the other’s reduced rates and free online banking. Otherwise, you may wish to look elsewhere.

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Logging in is fast and easy. Typically you can access online banking accounts from your financial institution’s homepage. You enter your username and password; in some cases you may be asked secondary information, like security questions, zip code, etc. Until you log in, you should never be asked to enter personal or financial information, like your social security number, your account balance or your account digits. You can bookmark this login page on your browser and always use a direct link or URL to access it, since mimicking pages with alternate addresses are popular identity theft scams.

Your account is safe. As long as you choose a secure password and keep your account data private, online banking is as secure as physical banking. It’s also protected by the same government entity, the Federal Insurance Deposit Corporation (FDIC), which insures up to $250,000 (across all account types per financial institution, not per account). So no matter what happens with the bank itself, a separate entity protects not only your initial deposit, but also the outstanding interest owed by the bank. It’s highly recommended that you only choose banks approved and protected by the FDIC for all services.

About the Author

TM Murphy is a professional writer who lives in NYC. TM Murphy has been writing full-time since 2006, when she graduated with a B.A. in English from Northeastern University.

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