Want a free checking account, or do you not see the point in having a traditional bank? If so, you should consider joining an online bank. The main draw of online banking is the financial benefit, as most of these institutions offer lower checking account fees and higher interest rates for deposits and savings accounts. While all financial institutions offer online banking of some type, online only banks save money by not having to pay for brick-and-mortar branches. And now, with check deposit capabilities via smart phones, most people have no need to visit their local branches anyway. It is likely that as services such as Google Wallet and Apple Pay become more readily available, more and more people will opt to go cash free and no longer have the need to visit a bank or ATM.
If you are the type of consumer who always likes to have the option of speaking to a real person, Discover’s online banking unit offers 24/7 customer service via telephone. While you will not have the option of visiting a local branch to meet with someone in person, this telephone service is more than what most online only banks offer. Email and online chat are how most of the online only banks handle their customer service which is effective in resolving most if not all customer concerns.
Another concern with going the online only route is the fear of hefty ATM fees adding up. If you primarily use a non-cash vehicle for your daily purchases, as many consumers are increasingly doing, then this will not be of concern. There are many off-sets in place as online bankers realize that this concern deters many people from making the switch to online only. Many will offer rebates for a certain amount of ATM fees each month, while others have partnered with ATM and banking networks in order to provide fee-free banking at local ATMs.
One alternative to online banking that also offers low fees and higher than average interest rates, is a local credit union or community bank. These institutions are typically more customer friendly with the financial benefits that most large banking institutions do not offer. Their checking account fees are typically lower as their deposit and savings account rates are more favorable. Moreover, their mortgage rates and car loans are usually more favorable to the consumer than competing banks. This is a good option to check out if you are still reluctant to make the plunge and go online only, but are still looking for the best financial terms available.
Before switching to an online only bank, be sure that you consider only those that are FDIC insured and follow all online security and data protection protocols. Online only banking can help to better your bottom line and as long as you are aware of all fees and limitations prior to signing up, they can be an effective banking option. It is likely that once you have gone online for all of your banking services it won’t take long until you are able to overcome all limitations while enjoying the financial benefits.