Banking online can make transactions that used to be tedious and time-consuming fast and easy. You can deposit and transfer money, pay bills, access your account history, and more—all from your laptop, smartphone, or tablet, and at any time that’s convenient for you.
There’s no more waiting in line to cash a check or for a bank to open. No more carrying a checkbook around. No more pens chained to countertops.
Which explains why the popularity of banking online is surging. According to a survey for the American Bankers Association , nearly three-quarters of Americans prefer to access their accounts through online and mobile platforms. Forty-two percent said banking on their laptop or PC was their top option, while 30% said they use mobile banking.)
To stay competitive, most traditional banks are incorporating digital features into the services they provide. But customers who appreciate innovation in access and options may wonder if there’s still more to love, and whether they can break with their branch bank.
Can you, for example, open an account online, without ever showing your face in person?
The answer is a resounding yes—and it’s about as quick and easy as any other financial transaction you might want to make.
How to Open a Bank Account Online
Here’s how the process typically works:
Choosing the Financial Institution You Want to Work With
You could go online to open an account with a traditional bank, or you may prefer to go with a financial institution that doesn’t have any physical locations. What’s the advantage of an online-only account (besides the obvious convenience of 24/7 accessibility)?
Online financial institutions have lower overhead costs, and they can pass those savings on to their customers. Another way to maximize your account balance is with a higher interest rate, and online institutions often offer the most competitive numbers—so that might be another factor in your decision-making.
You also may want to do some research on what security measures will be taken to protect your new account from cyber theft, and whether your money will be covered by FDIC insurance.
Each provider may have different benefits to offer, so you might want to take some time to find the right fit for you. Have questions? If you can’t get the information you require from the online financial institution’s website, you can always contact customer service.
Gathering Some Basic Data
Opening your account online might go even faster if you collect in advance all the information you might need to fill out the application. That could include:
• Contact information, such as your first and last name, address, phone number, and email address
• Your driver’s license number (or another government-issued ID) and/or Social Security number
• A username and password that you’ll create
Here’s where going online might pay off. It can take just 15 minutes (or less) to apply for an account online. You don’t have to drive to a bank. You don’t have to wait for assistance.
Heck, you don’t even have to comb your hair or put on shoes. Just sit down and tap some keys. Once you’ve submitted your application, the institution you’ve chosen will review and verify it.
Funding Your Account
To get an initial deposit into a new account online, you might be offered a few options. You could transfer funds from other accounts you already have (you’ll need account and routing numbers), wire the money, use a remote deposit capture, or mail in a check.
Activating Your Debit Card
If your account includes a debit card, just follow the instructions provided and set up a pin number. Usually, you can do this online or by phone, using the contact number that appears on a sticker attached to the card.
Automating Your Account
This can include setting up direct deposits, automated savings and investing, and any bills you want to have paid automatically from your account.
You might need to provide some basic information, so you may want to gather the appropriate paperwork for each service provider before you get started. You can follow the on-screen prompts, and call customer service if you need assistance.
Keeping an Eye on Your Account
You can track deposits, ATM withdrawals, and other transactions on your computer—or anywhere you go using a mobile banking app, if one is available.
The app may allow you to link to other accounts within the financial institution you’ve chosen and others, providing an overall view of your financial picture that could be useful for saving, budgeting, and investing.
There won’t be any need to wait for a monthly statement to arrive in the mail anymore—you could check on your account any time you like.
Looking for Innovation and Customer Focus
Digital technology continues to change the way companies do business—and consumers will keep demanding the most from their financial service providers. The mobile banking app you use today could look very different a year from now, or even tomorrow.
And the services offered likely will continue to expand. If you’re a fan of state-of-the-art tech but with a customer focus, you could keep that in mind if you make the move to an online-only account.
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