Many people scoff at online banking — maybe you’re one of them — because it seems like such an “unsafe” idea. However, while any online-centric business will have a certain measure of risk, there are legitimate online banks that are safe and well worth using.
Still not convinced? Check out our look at these online banking features that can inject convenience into your life and simplify your errands. Handling money has never been easier. Worried about safety and security? All of these banks are long-running and FDIC-insured.
Let’s look at each one to see what they offer above their competitors.
These banks cover the United States only. (It’s where I live, thus where I have the necessary experience.) Some of the listed banks may service people from outside of the country but I can’t speak to any sort of fees or regulations that may apply, so please be sure to read the fine print if you decide to sign up.
Ally Bank, formerly known as GMAC Bank, is an online-only bank that offers tremendous rates and features when compared to the average brick-and-mortar bank. GMAC was founded in 1919, so you don’t have to be afraid that they’ll pack their bags and run away with your money.
Web Interface: Compared to the local banks that I’ve done business with in the past, Ally’s web interface is truly on another level. The design is sleek and modern, neither cramped nor clunky. Everything is easy to find and you’ll be comfortable within minutes.
Financial Rates: Ally offers: three certificate of deposit accounts (CDs) between 0.87% and 1.30% annual percent yield (APY) which is compounded daily; three individual retirement accounts (IRAs) between 0.99% and 1.30% APY; a money market account at 0.85% APY; a checking account between 0.10% and 0.60% APY (depending on your balance); and a savings account at 0.99% APY. There are no minimum deposits required to open accounts.
Limitations: Savings accounts are limited to six outgoing transactions per statement cycle. APY rates for savings accounts are variable and CD accounts may incur early withdrawal penalties. Most transactions require 3-4 business days to process.
Security Features: All online communications are SSL encrypted. Account holders are encouraged to enable two-factor authentication and add several security questions. Ally provides 24/7 live support through their toll-free phone line.
Other Perks: Ally provides mobile apps for both Android and iOS. Checks can be electronically deposited through Ally eCheck Deposit as long as you have a scanner. Finally, they will cover all ATM fees you incur (Ally does not operate their own ATMs).
Capital One 360, formerly known as ING Direct, is the online banking division of Capital One. They belong to the same organization but operate separately, so opening a Capital One 360 account does not give you access to Capital One branches. However, Capital One 360 does have some physical locations for servicing their clients.
Web Interface: While the Capital One 360 website is certainly better than most of the online bank interfaces I’ve used, there is room for improvement. It feels dated and isn’t very inviting, which can be a psychological damper when you’re dealing with money. But functionally? It’s fine.
Financial Rates: Capital One 360 offers: CD accounts between 0.40% and 0.90% APY which is compounded monthly; a checking account between 0.20% and 0.90% APY depending on your balance; and a savings account with a variable 0.75% APY. Other options include mortgage loans as well as IRA and investment accounts through ShareBuilder.
Limitations: All accounts must be opened with at least a $0.01 deposit. Savings accounts have a limit of six outgoing transactions per statement cycle. Savings account deposits have a 10-day hold when first opened, and a 5-day hold afterwards. Checking account deposits have a 2-day hold.
Security Features: There are no extraordinary security features. However, their security guarantee will cover all losses from unauthorized account activity as long as it’s reported within 60 days. They also provide free help for identity theft victims through a toll-free number.
Other Perks: Deep integration with the online budgeting tool Mint.
What many people don’t realize is that Discover is more than just a credit card company. They are a financial group that’s been around for 25 years and have been consistently ranked #1 in customer service and customer loyalty for the last 18 years.
Web Interface: There’s not much to say about Discover’s online interface other than “It works.” It feels like any other online banking portal you might find with at traditional bank, but it’s well-organized with a clean design. I certainly don’t feel uncomfortable using it.
Financial Rates: Discover Bank offers: CD accounts between 0.35% and 2.30% APY which is compounded daily; a money market account between 0.75% and 0.80% APY; and a savings account at 0.90% APY. They also offer IRA accounts between 0.35% and 2.30% APY. There is no minimum balance necessary for savings accounts.
Limitations: Savings accounts have a limit of six outgoing transactions per statement cycle. CD accounts and money market accounts have a minimum opening deposit of $2,500. Savings accounts have a minimum opening deposit of $500. IRA accounts have a minimum opening deposit of $2,500.
Security Features: You are not responsible for any unauthorized transactions as long as you notify Discover immediately. All online communications are encrypted with SSL.
Other Perks: Discover accounts include Bill Pay Protection where they will reimburse any fees or costs incurred to you due to a late bill payment (if lateness was due to an error on Discover’s part). They also provide mobile apps for Android and iOS.
Barclays is actually a multinational bank based in the UK, but their online banking for the US is done through Barclays Bank Delaware, which was formerly known as Juniper Bank. Barclays has a long, rich history in the financial world and was noted as the seventh largest world bank in 2011.
Web Interface: The interface for Barclays is a strange mixture of clean-yet-crowded. The actual aesthetics are fine and pleasant on the eyes, but it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the information being thrown your way. You’ll get used to it, but it can be off-putting at first.
Financial Rates: Barclays offers: CD accounts between 0.35% and 2.25% APY which is compounded daily; a savings account at 1.00% APY; and a Dream savings account at 1.05% APY with a 2.5% bonus on interest earned if consecutive deposits are made for six months. There is no minimum deposit necessary to open any accounts.
Limitations: Savings accounts have a limit of six outgoing transactions per statement cycle. The Dream account has a maximum monthly deposit of $1,000. Penalties apply for early withdrawal from CD accounts.
Security Features: All online communications are encrypted with SSL/TLS and signed by VeriSign.
Other Perks: Web tools like the Savings Assistant that can help you set financial goals.
Save More With an Online Bank
I don’t recommend that you empty all of your brick-and-mortar accounts and shift it all into online accounts. Brick-and-mortar banks are useful for their own reasons and shouldn’t be overlooked.
If you’re still averse to online banking, that’s fine. At least you now know what’s out there! But regardless, you won’t find these kind of interest rates elsewhere. Being online-only means these banks can pass the gains to you. My personal bank of choice? Ally, due to their slick web interface, great rates, and security measures.
Want to save even more money? Check out these money savings apps that help make the saving process a little bit easier on your soul.
Are you an online banker? If so, which banks do you like the best? If not, what’s keeping you from making the leap? Have you had a bad experience with online banks? Share your experiences with us in the comments below!
Image Credits: Woman Banking Online Via Shutterstock