Online Banking Tips for 2008
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(1) THE BASICS: What to Expect from Your Online Bank
Free checking, direct deposit, online bill payment, online statements, and ATM fee rebates are the basic requirements that every online banking customer should expect out of their bank. While many brick-and-mortar banks claim to offer online banking many still cannot provide all of the above through their online platform.
(2) RATES, RATES, RATES
Consumers use sites like Money-Rates.com to find the best deposit rates online. The rates earned on accounts at the top online banks can be 5 or 6 times the rates paid at the nation's largest multi-branch banks. It's your money...don't let the banks borrow it for free.
(3) NEGOTIATE FEES WITH YOUR BANK
Banks are suprisingly willing to negotiate fees and terms when given the prospect of losing an account. Many banks will match the deposit rates of another bank or lower fees rather than lose an account. Just ask!
(4) READ THE FINE PRINT ON TEASER-RATE BANK OFFERINGS
Sometimes the terms for receiving the advertised rates can be quite burdensome. Make sure you fully realize the terms of the offer before opening an account. Have a customer service representative explain it to you if you lack the patience to read the small print.
(5) CONSIDER INTRODUCTORY MONEY MARKET ACCOUNT OFFERS
Many web sites imply that "introductory offers" from banks are somewhat deceiving. Our philisophy at money-rates.com is that any money market rate can be changed at any time by a bank at its discretion. The fact that a bank is telling you up front that their rate is good for only a certain number of days actually can work to the investor's advantage in planning their banking moves. Better to know up front the bank's intention than to rely on constantly checking their current money market rate!
(6) USE ONLINE BILL PAYMENT
Ever see those people balancing their checkbooks while sipping coffee at Starbucks? Now it is time for you to join them. Besides the obvious organizational and convenience advantages, online bill payment will save you money in the long run as you more effectively manage your float and prevent banking errors and costly late charges.
(7) VERIFY FDIC-INSURANCE COVERAGE OF YOUR BANK
Every day a new offshore bank solicits investors who are looking for the safety of FDIC insurance. In some cases these banks are international banks in other cases these banks are in fact criminal enterprises. Verify any new bank you are considering opening an account at by visiting www.fdic.gov.
(8) CONSIDER CREDIT UNION CD SPECIALS
Some credit unions offer superior deposit rates to banks. While these offers are usually restricted to members it could be very useful to visit http://bankdeals.blogspot.com to see if any credit unions in your area are offering a superior rate. Credit Unions are not covered by FDIC-insured but are insured by the National Association of Credit Unions
(9) MINIMUM BALANCES FEES
A silent killer that banks use to extract money from your account is the minimum balance fees. If you a banking customer that frequently takes your account balance down below $100 you will want an online bank with no minimum balance fees.
(10) CREDIT CARD TRAP
Banks make a huge amount of money off the extraneous fees associated with credit cards. The 0% balance transfer card that looks so attractive may have a 3% cash advance fee. The card may charge $50 for being late one day on a payment. And the biggest trap is the teaser rates that changes from a low APR to a high APR if the cardholder is late just one time. Look at all aspects of a credit card before opening a new credit card or tranferring a balance to a new credit card.
(11) BANK ALERTS
By now nearly everyone has received phishing e-mails purported to be from a legitimate bank with an alert about their account and an interface closely resembling the bank's own web site. Don't ever give up your account number or password unless you know that you are actually visiting the secure site of your online bank.
(12) MONITOR YOUR ACCOUNTS
The last tip listed here is by far the most important. Monitor your account! Having a good firewall and spyware is not enought to ensure that your computer security has not been breached. Monitor your account at least weekly for activity