Save Time & Money with Online Banking

Blog Photo 9.3.2013We could all benefit from a little more time in our day and money in our pocket. Banking and paying bills online is an easy way to save both time and money. With online banking services more diverse and secure than ever, this is great time to jump on-board if you’re not already taking advantage of your bank’s online banking offerings.

Paying bills online saves money because you don’t have to purchase checks as often or pay postage to mail your payment. Most banks offer online bill pay services at no charge, and setting up your account to make online payments is easy. You can pay bills as they come in each month or schedule recurring payments, which can be particularly useful for bills that are for the same amount each month, such as a car loan or mortgage payment. Depending on your bank’s relationship with the payee’s bank, they will issue an electronic payment or send a hard copy check (but they pick up the postage). Be sure to check payment dates carefully and be sure to enter payments online in time to meet bill due dates. Be sure your bank stands by its electronic payment system, paying any late fees and assisting you with any issues if payments are late but you entered them on-time.

Reduce clutter and paper in your home by switching to electronic bank statements, which you can typically receive by email or download to your computer from your bank’s website. If you use personal finance software, such as Quicken, you can download bank data into the software to track your spending, savings, investments and more.

Remote check deposit, originally available only for business account holders, is increasingly available for individual bank customers. The Check 21 Act, enacted by Congress in 2003, made electronic images of paper checks just as legitimate as the paper checks themselves. What does this mean for you? No more driving to your brick-and-mortar bank branch and waiting in line at the ATM, the drive-up window or inside to deposit a check. Many banks that offer remote check deposit services provide a smart phone app that allows account holders to take a photo of the check they want to deposit with their phone wand securely transmit it to the bank. Remote check deposit is particularly useful if you use an online-only bank. No more mailing checks and crossing your fingers that they get there safely!

Is online banking safe? According to Clark Howard, consumer advisor and author, many consumers don’t trust online and mobile banking. But consider what happens when you go to a bank:  you hand a check with your transit numbers to a stranger, who now has the information needed to drain your bank account.  If that teller isn’t honest, they have license to take as much money as they want because they have the transit numbers from your account. A Federal Reserve survey shows that one in five Americans use their mobile phone for banking – a number likely to increase as the convenience of these services appeals to more consumers and the security of services proves itself.

Check with your bank to learn which services they offer and how they secure your transactions. And then figure out what to do with all of the time and money you’re saving!