With the latest digital technology, there’s almost no reason to step inside a physical bank: Nearly three-quarters of Americans, for instance, bank primarily online or from their mobile device, according to the American Bankers Association.
But you might still like the idea of having a cheque book account at a bank with a branch nearby. Why? Maybe you think online banks aren’t as convenient as stopping by your neighborhood branch to get cash, the perks aren’t as good as with traditional banks or that online banks aren’t insured. Actually, these are three of several big myths about online banking.
“People who say online bank accounts are inconvenient may not know how they work,” says Monica Lam, founder of money-saving blog Lucky Mojito.
“I can mobile deposit a check into my account at any time without having to drive to the bank and wait in line.”
Lam wishes she hadn’t fallen for common online banking myths and took the benefits of online checking accounts more seriously sooner.
“If someone had told me I could avoid using gas or spending time going to the bank to deposit my cheques,” Lam says, “I would have switched a long time ago.”
By now you’re probably wondering, “What are the most common myths about online banking?” We reveal them—and debunk them—so you can understand why opening an online checking accountmight be right for you.
Myth 1: They’re inconvenient
Don’t just take Lam’s word that inconvenience is an online banking myth.
Patricia Russell, a certified financial planner at FinanceMarvel, agrees. “Some online accounts offer 24/7 access to many features of the bank. You can open your account, view your balance, deposit checks, apply for loans and pay bills—all from the convenience of the mobile app or website,” Russell says.
In fact, some online banks make it easy and convenient to open an account. “Online accounts are extremely easy to open,” says Miguel A. Suro, founder of the financial blog The Rich Miser.
“All you have to do is go to the website or download the app and follow the simple prompts.”
If convenience is on your mind, you may also worry about the ability to access cash without a physical bank branch, but online banks may have a large network of ATMs that you can use, Russell says. For instance, with Discover’s online checking account, called Cashback Debit, you can use your debit card at over 60,000 no-fee ATMs.
How’s that for debunking myths about online checking?
Myth 2: You have to be tech savvy to use online accounts.
While you need to have a computer, tablet or smartphone to use an online bank and access an online checking account, one of the top myths about online banking is that you have to be a techie.
“There is no need to know a lot about technology to have an online account,” Russell says. “Some banks know the importance of easy-to-use websites and mobile apps, so they often have a design that is simple and straightforward—even for those claiming not to be tech savvy.”
Lam, who recently opened a new online bank account, also challenges this myth about online banking. “I went online and filled out a simple form and instantly had access to my account,” she says. Suro has had an online bank account for 10 years and has not found the technology to be challenging, debunking this myth about online checking. “If you can manage your traditional bank’s account online via its website or app, you can manage an online-only account,” Suro says.
“It’s the same basic experience.”
“If you can manage your traditional bank’ bank’s account online via its website or app, you can manage an online-only account.
It’s the same basic experience.”– Miguel A. Suro, founder of financial blog The Rich Miser.
Myth 3: You won’t be able to talk to a human if there’s a problem.
Another online banking myth is that you won’t be ableto access good customer service for your online checking account because you can’t walk into a branch to talk to someone. Not so fast. Some online banks have customer service representatives that you can call, and some may even have this service available around the clock (no need to even leave the comfort of your home if you have a question).