Fee structure, services offered, interest rates, branch and ATM locations and hours are some of the main considerations when choosing a traditional bank. Each of these criteria is still important when you’re choosing an online bank since you’ll most likely be using the same bank for your offline transactions as well.
One of the most important things to consider when signing up for an online bank account is the bank’s security. It’s great to have free online banking as long as it’s not at the expense of your financial security. If you’re looking at new banks or financial institutions that you’re not familiar with, or even if you’re not sure what your own online banking security policies are, make sure to find out.
Do a little research by reading their security policies and procedures. All banks that provide online banking have to follow strict security regulations governed by Regulation E (RegE), of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act. The information on security should be easy to find on the bank’s website and should offer instructions on what to do if you believe you’ve become a victim of identity theft. Safe online banking sites will let you know if they offer any kind of guarantees or insurance should you find yourself a victim of theft or fraud. When banks offer that kind of written guarantee, you’ll be more confident that they are serious about protecting you.
Some additional considerations when researching an online bank are: How easy is the web site to use? Does the bank offer technical customer support 24 hours a day? Can you do all the transactions that you will regularly want to do – including paying bills online and transferring funds?
Taking the time to carefully compare all of the options before you choose a financial institution will likely save you time in the long run because you’ll be sure that you’ve made the right choice for you.