With the rise of online banks in recent years, it may be tempting to hop on board and explore all of these services have to offer. Internet banks have many benefits, including fewer fees and more generous interest rates; they can also be linked to banks that aren’t online-only. However, while many of these banks do have very enticing features, there are also a few things you should be aware of.
Cash deposits may be impossible
While withdrawing is usually as easy as it would be with any other banks, placing physical cash into your online-only account is a feature many online banks lack. You may be able to, however, if your online bank is part of an ATM network with other physical banks; otherwise, the easiest (but more time-consuming) option would be to place the cash in another account and then digitally transfer the money. Although there is one other workaround: if you purchase a prepaid debit card, you can link it to your Internet bank and use the cash to recharge the card and then make the transfer.
Be Ready for [Occasional] Technical Difficulties
This is not to say that online banks are unreliable—far from it—but like all web sites, they may once in a while suffer from technical or loading issues. Because of this, it does help to keep your money in more than one place, whether it’s in a second account or on web sites like Paypal. Furthermore, if you’re going to a place where there might be limited Internet or few ATMs, then withdrawing cash beforehand is a must.
Know Your Bank’s Fee Reimbursement Limits
One of the truly fantastic benefits of many online banks is that they often pay back withdrawal fees, as they do not have physical offices that customers can withdraw money from. However, they often have certain reimbursement limitations: Aspiration, for instance, reimburses foreign withdrawal fees, but not currency conversion fees. Other banks have other caveats, e.g. only reimbursing a certain amount per month, so study your bank’s conditions carefully.
Seek Professional Opinions
Type in an online bank you’re interested in into a search engine, e.g. Aspiration Reviews, and you’re bound to find a number of sites giving honest, reliable reviews, such as Forbes and Nerdwallet. While visiting the web site of an online bank directly can also be informative, outside reviews can provide you an unbiased take on the company, and answer questions you might not have thought of.
Don’t just use your online-only account for emergencies. Like many banks, Internet-based ones offer incentives for deposits, including interest, although the minimum about of cash required can be as high as $1000 a month. Therefore, to make the most of your online banking service, treat it as if it were your “main” account and place money in it as often as possible. An easy way to do this would be to simply have your employer transfer your salary directly to the account.
While online banking has many benefits, these suggestions will help you make the most out of the experience, as well as help you avoid a number of common mistakes.