Finance Internet

The 7 Best Online Banking Features For Simplifying Your Life

Joel Lee 06-01-2015

Does money management stress you out? If so, rather than gritting your teeth from month to month, what if you could effortlessly alleviate some of that stress for good? Online banking offers a lot of benefits that can help to simplify the headaches of money.


Let’s dive right in and see how online banking can make your life easier.

Easy Account Creation

There was a time when the only way to open a bank account was in person. Nowadays, it’s possible to complete the enrollment process from start to finish without ever leaving your home.


Depending on the bank, the application forms can take less than 10 minutes to fill out. All you have to do is input a few details and send out photocopies of whatever forms of identification the bank requires. It’ll still take a few days or weeks before your account is ready, but that’s to be expected regardless.

But the best part is that once you’ve made an account, additional accounts are even easier to create since the bank already has the necessary information in its database. With multiple accounts, moving money between them is often free and without delay.


Electronic Statements

Traditional bill statements are annoying on two fronts. First, they unnecessarily clog up your physical mailbox. Second, they’re a tremendous waste of paper The Future Is Here - Your Guide to Having a Paperless Life Today Paperless – a term that is used quite often now days. But what does it mean? And to what extent does it apply? Certainly we all still use paper to some degree despite the advancements... Read More . Maybe you don’t care too much about that second point, but for the most part paper bills have become a messy inconvenience.


Of course switching to email statements can still result in digital clutter, but deleting an email is far easier than shredding paper. Plus, with apps like Google Inbox Google Inbox Review: A Breath Of Fresh Air Gmail is a household name in the email department, but Google wasn't content with it. Meet Google Inbox, a new way of approaching email. Read More , it’s nice to be able to receive and read your bill reminders no matter where you go.

Worst case scenario: if you need a paper record for a particular bill, you can always print it out. There aren’t any good reasons not to switch over to electronic statements ASAP. What are you waiting for?


Automatic Bill Payments

How many bills do you pay every month? For most of us, the answer is “too many”. You’ve got rent/mortgage, utilities, car loans, various types of insurance, student loans, and all of the other subscriptions and enrollments in your life. That’s a lot of bills to juggle even if they come once per month.


Most online banks allow you to link your bills directly to your account and have them paid on time automatically. For every bill you set up, that’s one less thing you need to juggle every month. That can add up to a lot of reduced stress.

One important caveat: automatic bill payment should only be used if your bank balance is more than enough to cover all of your bills at any given time. This requires discipline with your budget Simply Frugal: How To Learn Personal Finance The Easy Way Do you fret over bills and debt on a regular basis? Do you feel lost when others speak using financial lingo? Here's the good news: it's never too late to learn about money. Read More . If you live paycheck to paycheck, manual bill payments are the best way to avoid accidental overdrafts.


Mobile Check Deposits

Many banks offer a feature called Mobile Check Deposits, though the precise name might differ from bank to bank. The concept is simple: instead of physically visiting your local bank branch to deposit a check, you can do it from home by uploading a photo of the check (front and back).


The only thing you need to do this is a mobile deposit app, which you should be able to find on the App Store or the Play Store. Just be careful that you download a legitimate one! You don’t want to be sending your check photos to a malicious third party. Again, make sure your bank offers this feature before you try it.

Secure Message Alerts

One of the better reasons to use online banking is that you can receive notifications in close to real-time. . These notifications can be trivial or annoying at times, but they can also save your life. For example, you can be notified when:

  • transactions are completed or denied,
  • a bill payment date is approaching,
  • your bank balance is reaches a specified target amount,
  • details of your account were changed,
  • there were failed attempts to log into your account.

If anything suspicious happens on your account, it’s incredibly helpful to have an immediate alert since waiting too long can have disastrous consequences. That being said, even the trivial alerts can be useful in the right situations.

And take a look at these ways that hackers can break into your bank account 5 Methods Hackers Use to Break Into Your Bank Account The risk to your bank account from hackers is real. Here are the ways hackers can gain access to your savings and clear you out. Read More so that you can better protect yourself:

Report & Management Tools

Prior to online banking, it wasn’t exactly easy to get on-demand reports and summaries for your account activity. Depending on the bank, there might even have been a fee associated with retrieving that info. Yet, with online banking, it’s always one click away.


Some banks are better than others in this regard. Most of them will provide you with a transaction history at the very least, but the best ones have advanced features like creating categories and viewing how much you’ve spent in each category (e.g. bills, entertainment, emergency, etc.).

Desktop Software Integration

If you use Quicken How To Make A Budget And Wipe Out Debt With Quicken Online Read More (or one of several Quicken alternatives 5 Free Financial Software Alternatives To Quicken Read More ) to help manage your money, then online banking might make that area of your life even easier. As long as your bank supports your tool, you should be able to integrate your bank account seamlessly with whatever desktop software you use.


Integration can involve a direct connection between your bank account and your software, but if not, the other possibility is exporting your transaction history as a file download (typically in .CSV format) and importing it into the software like that.

Final Thoughts

On top of everything we’ve said here, there are a few more reasons to start using online banking 6 Common Sense Reasons Why You Should Bank Online If You Aren't Already [Opinion] How do you usually do your banking? Do you drive to your bank? Do you wait in long lines, just to deposit one check? Do you receive monthly paper statements? Do you file away those... Read More . There’s a measurable increase in convenience, so much so that it’ll grant you some space to step back and take a deep breath with regard to your money.

A brief note: there’s a little bit of extra risk with online banking since you’re banking (no pun intended) all of your security on passwords, but as long as you practice good security habits Change Your Bad Habits & Your Data Will Be More Secure Read More and utilize two-factor authentication What Is Two-Factor Authentication, And Why You Should Use It Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security method that requires two different ways of proving your identity. It is commonly used in everyday life. For example paying with a credit card not only requires the card,... Read More , you shouldn’t run into any issues there. And if you can’t log into your bank account, here are a few tips Unable to Log Into Your Bank Account? Try These Tips Asking yourself "Why can't I log into my bank account?" We've rounded up some tips to hopefully help you resolve it. Read More to help you out.

Which online banking features do you like best? Or, if you don’t use online banking, what’s keeping you from taking the dive? Share with us in the comments below!

Image Credits: Online Banking Paradise Via Shutterstock, Mobile Banking Via Shutterstock, Transaction Statements Via Shutterstock, Bill Payments Via Shutterstock, Check Deposits Via Shutterstock, Account Reports Via Shutterstock, Banking Software Via Shutterstock

Related topics: Money Management, Online Banking.

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  1. Kai M.
    January 8, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    As a professional IT consultant for the past 15 years I am not a big proponent of Online banking despite its so-called "conveniences." As dragonmouth pointed out it doesn't matter what happens on the customers end if the bank security itself is breached. Russian hackers recently broke into City Bank and stole personal information of 92,000 customers. Although they apparently did not get the financial information (this time) it's won't be long before we have an incident like the Target and Home Depot hack happen to online bank accounts and the less personal/financial information that is out there the better. Also you don't need an online bank account to get real time fraud alerts from your credit card company, most of them will contact you immediately these days at the first sign of trouble and you can take care of it over the phone right then and there.

    • Joel Lee
      January 18, 2015 at 12:13 am

      As you have consultant experience, maybe you have a credible answer to this question: the issue of bank security is not related to mobile banking, is it? If the bank itself is compromised, it shouldn't matter if I'm using traditional banking or mobile banking. It's the backend that's at risk.

      The offline real-time alerts is a good point, but I think most people these days would find email/text alerts to be more convenient than phone calls. :P

  2. ReadandShare
    January 6, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    Great article! For some reason, my first post disappeared??

    Anyway, I've been using online banking for years now. No mishap. If anything, I believe going online has strengthened my account security! I have mine set up to notify me every time there is a transaction -- debit or credit -- checking or credit card. Great for verifying that my activities were all recorded correctly.

    Last year, when I was traveling in Central America, my bank notified me of an ATM transaction in Mexico -- even though I was never in Mexico. By the time I flew home the next day, there was a second Mexican withdrawal. Automatic notification enabled me to notify the bank right away -- instead of having to wait for the month end statement like in the days of old. The bank credited me back the money in full. No risk at all -- as long as you notify your bank "in a timely fashion" -- and that's where online banking can be helpful.

  3. dragonmouth
    January 6, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    "as long as you practice good security habits and utilize two-factor authentication, you shouldn’t run into any issues there. "
    You are neglecting one small, insignificant, measly detail - online transactions have TWO participants. If the bank's security has been compromised, it does not matter how secure your end is, the security of your data is in the toilet.

    • Joel Lee
      January 8, 2015 at 2:20 am

      That's true and I didn't mean to make it sound like there'd be no risk at all. There's always risk when dealing with sensitive data. That being said, a bank's security being compromised isn't an issue that's unique to mobile banking.

  4. ReadandShare
    January 6, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    I've been using online banking for years now, and to me, one of the greatest features -- not available before -- was real time notifications. Nowadays, I get text / email notifications of both debit and credit transactions. No need to wait until the end of the month to receive paper bank statements in order to verify transactions. And if there is anything unauthorized -- such as two ATM withdrawals totaling $1,000 from a Mexican bank when I wasn't even in Mexico -- I get to know within minutes -- and not a month afterwards.

    Computerization opened up many avenues for hackers. But used right, it can also improve our banking experience with convenience and added safety. Excellent article, Joel.

    • Joel Lee
      January 8, 2015 at 2:17 am

      If there's one thing I love about the Internet age, it's exactly what you described. Being able to stay on top of things in real-time is one of those things that we so easily take for granted, but if we suddenly lost the Internet one day I think we'd all go crazy with how long we'd have to wait just for information to propogate.