Gone are the days when you needed to go over specially to your local branch to deposit cash, transfer money, check your account balance and pay off your credit card. Online banking makes your financial life simpler by letting you perform all of these actions with just one tap on your smartphone, computer or tablet.
This guide on online bank accounts will run you through the key advantages of Internet banking and the important things you should be looking out for while applying for an online account.
Key features to consider before opening an online account
With most Australian banks and financial institutions offering online banking facilities, it’s important to understand the different features that you should look out for so you can choose the best bank account for your needs. Here are some specifications that you should keep in mind before opening an online account:
Since one of the main reasons to switch to an online account is that it lets you use your funds conveniently whenever you want, you must make sure that your account comes with easy access. This means you should check if you can login to your account and manage your money from multiple devices easily.
User friendly interface.
Since you’ll be using the bank’s website to access your money, you’ll want a website interface that is simple and easy to navigate. Make sure it’s quick to load because a slow website that hangs midway will just defeat your purpose of instant banking solutions (and possibly chew up your data allowance).
Another useful feature that can really make or break your decision about an online account is whether it lets you access your money through a mobile app.
Whether it’s for your laptop, desktop or smartphone, it’s important to review the services that online banking offers as these can often be different to normal banking features. Some of the things you should be able to do using online banking are - check your balance, transfer funds, make payments, have access to online tools and calculators and sign up for new products and services.
Email payment details.
When you make a payment via Internet banking, you’ll have the option to email the details of the transaction to any email address. This is a useful feature to keep a record of the transaction yourself as well as for the payee.
Since making transactions over the Internet requires you to type in your password and PIN into a device, it’s important to check on the safety measures the online banking facility has in place. Read up on the bank’s guidelines to protect you and your funds from any kind of digital fraud.
In case there is any issue or you need help with your online bank account, the bank should have a good customer care system in place. If the online account does not allow for branch access then it is even more important to know if there is enough online support available. To know more about a bank’s customer assistance program, check bank account reviews at Mozo for unbiased opinion from customers like you.
While most online bank accounts with major banks will also have branch access, some providers and bank accounts may be only available online. Even though it’s generally convenient (and possible) to address all your concerns online in case you’ll feel more comfortable with the option of face to face banking make sure you check that your account will have branch access before signing up.
Advantages of online banking.
The great thing about opening an online account is that you don’t need to go to the branch to make an application. You can just login to the bank’s website, fill in the form online, punch in the required details, upload the necessary documents and let the bank set up your account.
Banking on the go.
One of the most important features of an online account that makes it more convenient than a traditional account is that you can access your funds no matter where you are. Your money is at your fingertips and you don’t need to go anywhere or wait for a bank’s opening hours to withdraw or deposit cash.
Easy money management.
Managing your finances becomes much simpler when you can check bank statements and transfer funds whenever you need to. With the option to set up recurring payments, email payment details or make payments via BPAY, it’s never been easier to make quick and easy transactions instantly.
Automatic payments and direct debits.
One of the easiest ways to make sure you’re never stuck with late payment fees is to set up direct debits from your online bank account. You can pay your electricity, gas and phone bills regularly and some services may even offer additional discounts for setting up a direct debit account.
If you don’t want to set up a direct debit account and would rather keep note of every payment you make, you can set up messages or alerts to remind you of deadlines.
Things to look for in a mobile banking app
If you’re new to the world of mobile banking, here are a few things that you can generally do with a banking app on your smartphone:
- check your account balance
- transfer your money across different accounts
- pay off your credit card bill
- find the nearest ATM
- lock a lost debit card from your smartphone
Is online banking safe?
While digital banking is a safe mode of transacting money, you need to be careful while providing your personal and financial details online, especially on a shared device. Your bank or credit union would have a number of measures in place to protect you from online fraud, however, it’s always a good idea to take extra precaution and login to your online account only when you’re connected through a secure network.
Apart from this, make sure you never share your password or PIN with anyone - it’s one of the most basic tips to avoid risk and must be taken seriously.
How to apply for an online account?
With practically every bank and lender in Australia offering online banking facilities, you have a wide range of choices when it comes to online bank accounts. If you already have a bank account, online banking is generally a free service that your account comes with. Different banks will have a slightly different process for activating online services, but mostly you’ll need to create a login id and password using the bank’s website or phone banking.
If you don’t have an existing account, then you can compare the different bank accounts using Mozo’s comparison table, pick one that suits your financial needs the most, hit the ‘Go to site’ button to reach the bank’s website and then make an online application.