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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money
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Banking mostly online even though I love walking into the local branch of my financial institution


About six years ago, my partner learned about a new bank (and like he does with everything), he did a lot of research and decided that this was the financial institution for him. This bank helps him set goals, stay disciplined, keep track with his spending, and it offers good interest rates. In other words, it offers great automation options and web-based and technical support services that make his banking experience a lot more convenient.

Even though it has all these fascinating benefits, I was very hesitant because it is a virtual bank. It has many of the same benefits of a traditional bank and some added ones. It has electronic services, customer service options, and locators for no-fee ATM - among other benefits. However, one of the big challenges for me was not having a physical location. I have spoken with people who love that they can walk into one of their bank or credit union branches and talk with someone about any issues they have with any product. This influences how they interface with online banking. My family currently uses both a traditional credit union and a virtual bank, and for the purpose of this article, I am focusing primarily on online banking as a service offered by both traditional and virtual banks.

Online banking "allows users to execute financial transactions via the internet. Online banking is also known as internet banking or web banking." This type of banking allows you to have easier access to your account information and aids in the management of your financial life.

As we continue to learn more about online banking, it is important to understand the responsibilities of our financial institutions. Banks and credit unions are the two main types of financial institutions and federal laws, which regulates deposits and customer information, govern them.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insures Banks

  • FDIC is an independent agency created by Congress
  • It insures deposits, enforces consumer protection, supervises financial institutions

The National Credit Union Association (NCUA) insures Credit Unions

  • NCUA is another independent agency created by Congress
  • Regulates, supervises, and promote confidence in the national system of cooperative credit

Both the FDIC and NCUA insure each depositor for $250,000. Both agencies have consumer protection guidelines. If you are interested in using online banks, learn if they are FDIC-insured by reading their policies or even their "About Us " page. A few other things to consider:

  • Learn what protection services your bank or credit union offers. For example, some financial institutions offer account-monitoring services that alert you if they suspect any fraudulent activities on your accounts.
  • Pay close attention to the policies your financial institution has regarding online banking. How do you manage your accounts? What regulations or restrictions exist when you are using the mobile banking application (app) from your financial institutions?
  • Find out if there are technical support services available to you to help navigate online banking. The customer services piece is important for timely responses to your requests or inquiries or for scheduled technical maintenance needed. For instance, my credit union provides a message on their app and online page to let customers know [days ahead of time] when the maintenance will take place. They typically schedule these overnight to make it more convenient for customers.

We make banking decisions based on accessibility, time, convenience, and level of comfort. Whether you use a combination of in-person and online banking or exclusively online banking services, there will continue to be trends and changes in how financial institutions offer services and how consumers use financial service. Contact your financial institution with questions regarding changes to online products or services.

 

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