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Do you have an Internet only bank account? Have you ever thought about opening up one? Being a “brick and mortar” type of consumer, I’ve never even considered such an option. On the other hand, if you can barely remember the last time you stepped into your local bank branch, having an Internet only bank account might be right for you. Here are some things to consider.
- Internet banks save money because they don’t have the overhead of buildings and staff that local banks do. Many pass that savings onto their customers by paying higher interest rates or charging lower fees. Rates and fees are always subject to change.
- Some Internet banks allow you to link your Internet account to your traditional accounts, so that you can move money between accounts freely.
- Similar to traditional banks, Internet banks accept direct deposits from pay checks, encouraging people to set up automatic savings each month.
- Deposits in an Internet bank can be insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Look for the familiar FDIC logo or the words "Member FDIC" or "FDIC Insured" on the Internet bank’s website. The FDIC’s website has more information about safe Internet banking.
Recent articles by AARP and North Dakota State University Extension offer some cautions about Internet banking.
- Check your Internet accounts frequently to monitor for errors or fraudulent activity, just as you would with a traditional bank account.
- Don’t provide sensitive information like PIN numbers, passwords, account numbers, or your social security number when you receive an “urgent” or unsolicited e-mail, text message or phone call.
- Be vigilant about attachments or links in unsolicited e-mails from anyone you don't know or you otherwise aren't sure about. When in doubt, don’t open the attachment or click on the link.
- If you’re not comfortable with technology, working only with a local traditional bank may be what you need.
- With an Internet bank, there is no face-to-face service. Many Internet banks offer phone support, but some provide only online chat communication with customer-service reps.
- You may be able to access funds through local ATMs. However, your Internet bank may have only a limited number of ATMs in your area. It may take at least one business day to clear funds or complete a transfer on line, so you must build that time into your money management.
- Weigh your options and the caveats before you decide if an Internet bank account is right for you.