Online vs. traditional banking
There are a few options to consider when opening a checking account. You can opt to manage your account with a traditional bank or choose a bank that offers online banking as well. A good online banking system will offer just about every traditional service available through a local branch. A third option to consider is an Internet bank that only provides services online. The benefit of this option is lower fees and higher interest rates passed on to you by foregoing staffed brick-and-motor branches. If you have a “trust” issue with online banking—and you don’t think you'll be able to get past it-the traditional route may be more your speed. Either way, the following tips will help you make the decision that's right for you.
Benefits of online banking
- Convenience: Open 24/7 with real-time access to your accounts from anywhere. The ability to check your account and pay bills while traveling.
- Speed: Online transactions at or quicker than ATM processing speeds.
- Fund transfers: Makes "paying yourself" even easier by setting up automatic transfers to your savings account.
- Online bill pay: Pay your bills online. Many banks have a low monthly bill-pay service fee that enables you to pay most utilities, loans, etc., online. Setting up recurring monthly payments helps you avoid late payments since there is no mailing time. You'll also be saving money on postage.
- Sophisticated tools: Many banks offer sophisticated tools with alerts-such as alerts when your account balance is low, notifications of unusual activity, etc.-that also are compatible with money managing programs such as Quicken and MicrosoftMoney.
- Additional services: Opting to enroll in Overdraft Protection services and the like may make sense, but be sure you understand all the fees involved in additional programs like these. If you do put them in place, use them as a precaution, not a safety net. If you come to rely on this service instead of balancing your checkbook and not spending money you don't have, you could end up spending a lot of money in service fees.
- Security: Your online accounts will be password protected. Be sure to follow all your banks tips and procedures to keep your account sealed and don't fall prey to online scams from hackers trying to get your account information.
Benefits of a traditional checking account:
- Human interaction: Interacting with the bank teller, bank manager, or accounts manager on a regular basis may make you more comfortable.
- Peace of mind: The traditional bank has walk-up depositories, a vault, and a security staff to ensure that your money is safe and protected.
- Paper trail: Maintaining a checkbook register, receiving paper statements in the mail, and receiving deposit receipts all provide a record of your banking history.