Online banking is a very simple way to manage your money without actually needing to visit your bank or building society – or pick up the phone and speak to someone. Instead, you log on to the internet (you’ll need an internet connection and a computer or a smartphone with the right software on it), and then connect to a secure website.
What can I do with online banking?
With most high street banks, you can manage the same transactions you’d want to complete in everyday life. That’s things like paying bills, checking your balance, setting up Direct Debits, or even transferring money to other accounts.
And what can’t I do with online banking?
Every bank is slightly different, and some don’t offer things like investments online – you’ll still need to talk to a professional adviser or make contact with your bank for some transactions.
Why should I set up online banking?
Above all, it can make life much easier for you. You don’t have to visit a branch, there are no queues, and you’re not obliged to bank when the banks are open either. You can usually use online banking facilities 24 hours a day. Not only that, you can be right up to date with what’s happening in the accounts you can see online – you don’t have to call a customer services team or wait for a statement.
Is it easy to use online banking?
Yes, usually. Even if you don’t use computers very often, banks try very hard to make their website easy to use. And most banks and building societies offer email or phone support help if you’re not sure about something.
Is online banking safe?
A lot of people worry about this – but if you’re banking with a ‘high street’ bank and you’re sure that you are using their secure website, you should be fine.
Banks and building societies protect your details by encrypting the data, and you may be sent a handheld device – a PIN reader – to use, before you can access your account. Every time you log in, you’ll need to get a unique number – either by reading a code or by putting your debit card into the device entering your PIN number.
Here are some top tips to make sure you feel confident about using online banking.
- Talk through the service in a branch or over the phone first. The bank will want to help you.
- Don’t write down your username or password anywhere.
- Log out of the website as soon as you’ve finished – it’s not enough to simply close the window.
- If you’re using a computer in a public place, make sure you can’t be seen.
- And never send emails with your banking details in them.
Anything else I should know?
There are some fake sites out there, and it’s quite common to get emails that claim to come from banks. They’ll ask for your details or tell you to click a link and enter them online – this is known as ‘phishing’. Your bank or building society will never ask for your personal details in an email, so if you receive a message like that, delete it straight away.