So you’ve opened your first bank account. That’s a great start. Next step? Take advantage of online banking! Here’s how it works.

What is online banking? How does online banking work? - benefits of online banking

Online Banking 101: The Teen Edition

Congratulations on opening your first bank account! Now, all you need is for that shiny new debit card to arrive in the mail and you’re all set. But you don’t have to wait on your debit card to start taking advantage of all the perks that your bank has to offer. Thanks to online banking, you can access your account with the tap of a finger without having to visit a branch.

 

What is Online Banking?

Online banking is the act of conducting bank transactions online. When you log in, you’ll be able to…

 

  • View balances, transaction history, routing, and checking-account numbers for all your accounts
  • Download account statements
  • Transfer funds between your accounts in real time
  • Send secure messages to bankers if you need help with your account
    • Some banks also offer a live-chat function or allow you to make an appointment to see a banker at a physical branch
  • Update account settings, including account alerts and identifying information

 

How Does Online Banking Work?

To access your account electronically, you’ll need to enroll using your account information. You can do this using the bank’s website or mobile app.

 

If you use the website, visit the homepage and look for the button or hyperlinked text that says something along the lines of “access your account online” or “login.” Click the link and instead of entering a username and password, select the button that says “register” or “enroll.”

 

If you prefer to use your smartphone to access your account, download your financial institution’s app. Next, click on the “sign up,” “enroll,” or “register” text; select your account type; and enter the requested information. This information is used to validate your identity and can include a combination of your name, address, social security number, zip code, date of birth, and phone number.

 

Quick note: You can register online and use the same credentials to manage your account via mobile app.

 

Other Benefits of Online Banking

1. Mobile Deposits

If you haven’t enrolled in direct deposit at your job and are still receiving paper checks, online banking takes the hassle out of having to wait in line at the bank or pay a check-cashing company to get your money.

 

Instead, you can log into the mobile app; snap pictures of the front and back of the check; and enter the requested inputs. Problem solved.

 

This feature will work for virtually any check, including those you receive as gifts from family members.

 

2. Cross-Account Transfers

What if you need to transfer money to one of your other accounts to cover an expense? There’s no need to write a check to yourself or to physically visit the bank, withdraw the funds, and deposit them into the other account.

 

With online banking, you can link external accounts and initiate cross-account transfers. You may want to do so when you initially set up your account, as the verification process may take a few days.

 

3. Sending Money to Other People

Do you owe money to a family member or friend or need to lend them some cash because they’re in a financial bind? Several financial institutions have partnered with payment services like Zelle to help consumers quickly get money where it needs to go. A nominal fee may apply, but it beats a wire transfer, and the money will reach its destination in as little as one business day.

 

4. Opening a New Account

Are you considering a savings account to help reach financial goals like paying for prom or buying a car? You don’t have to visit the branch to fill out the application. You can usually do it online. As long as you meet the eligibility requirements, your account will likely be ready for use the same day. If there’s a minimum opening deposit, you can fund your account from the online dashboard, as well.

 

5. Applying for a Credit Card or Loan

Are you ready to apply for your first credit card or loan? You may be inclined to visit the branch and get the ball rolling in person with a banker. But you may also be able to upload the required documentation, complete the process online, and get approved without stepping foot in the branch. Even better, the application may be pre-populated with the information that the bank already has on file for you.

 

6. Paying Bills Directly From Your Account

This is one of the most desirable features of online banking. No more heading to the post office to drop checks in the mail or scheduling payments on 20 different websites across the web. With online banking, you can make arrangements to pay all your monthly bills directly from the dashboard (though a nominal fee may apply for this service).

 

7. Viewing Your Credit Score

If you don’t have a credit score yet, this feature won’t be as beneficial to you. But once you enter the world of credit, you could save yourself a few bucks a month by viewing your credit score for free from the online dashboard.

 

8. Spending Trackers

Need help managing your money? Most banks have this covered, offering budgeting tools directly from the dashboard to help you track your spending and set financial goals.

 

The Bottom Line

Online banking is definitely something you want to consider to take the hassle out of managing your money. But make sure to protect your login information and frequently review account activity to minimize the chances that your account will be compromised.

 

TAKE ACTION

Think you’re a banking whiz? Test your banking smarts with our online quiz!

 

For more from author Allison Martin, click here