Today much of your banking transactions can easily and securely be done online. This is a guide about online banking advice.
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Beware that if you have online banking, the balance may not be accurate. I have yet to have it explained to me clearly but lately, in the PM the night before, I had a plus balance and the pending items were some transformed into NSF, despite an incoming automatic deposit.
I was just told "keep better records" and I am becoming increasingly aware that the online balance is only approximate (and computerized banking practices seem to have changed in favor of the bank and getting fees) so I will be much more careful in the future!
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To help keep track of internet banking, I keep a special page in my agenda dedicated to all my banking transactions done online; date, which account, amount, and the reference number. That way I don't need to print them out and have it right beside me ready to use. It does not reveal any pin numbers or full account numbers and so is safe in that regard.
By Bellevillelady from Belleville, Ontario, Canada
Editor's Note: Do you have any tips and tricks for keeping track of online banking and bill pay? Post your advice here.
I use online banking to check our balance every day and also to see what checks or debit card charges have cleared. My husband and I rarely carry cash, so to make sure I deduct the debit card charge from my checkbook, when I make a purchase, I make sure that the receipt goes into my check register at the time of purchase. My husband gives me his receipts at the end of the day. The next morning I can go online and reconcile the checkbook - so I don't have to wait until the monthly statement comes to reconcile.
I have a desk calendar that displays a month at a time on the desk. Some years it is an open-book type that stays open, other years it is the desk pad-type. When I get a bill in, I note it on the calendar on the due date so I can see at a glance what needs to be paid when. For bills that are automatically deducted from our account, I note those payments on those days also. So along with all our appointments for the month, I also have all our bills due. When the bill is paid, I just mark it out on the calendar. That way, if I pay a bill early, it is noted.
I use Quicken on my computer as an extra copy of my checkbook. It is no trouble to enter the information into Quicken from my checkbook. That way, if there ever is a problem, I can do a fast and easy search for the amount if I happen to be "off" in my reconciliation. There have been times when I entered a different amount in Quicken that my checkbook. So in essence, I can check my checkbook, Quicken on my computer and then purchases that have cleared online. It works very well for us.
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Have any ThriftyFun members had good luck with online banking? I'm thinking about enrolling in Bank of America's online bill payment service but have heard some horror stories about it not being safe (not necessarily BofA but any bank). Thanks for any feedback you can give me.
Lynn from Calif.
BoA's online banking and bill pay is excellent. I've used it for several years and have never had any problems.
I have used online banking through Chase Bank and Bank of America. Never had a problem with either. BoA seems to be easier to use, has more options such as the ebills.
Go for it! (01/29/2005)
I do all of my banking online BoA, Chase, Master Card, Sears, Bell South, Target.. and never had any trouble. Good luck! (01/29/2005)
I have an account at US Bank and started using their "Pay My Bills" feature about 6 months ago. At US Bank, this is a free service, and I have not had any trouble with it. I like it better than automatic pay because I choose the date to pay the bill. I pay my bills on the 4th of the month after they are received because my Social Security check is deposited on the 3rd of the month. So I used to spend a lot of time on the 4th, writing checks and getting them ready for the mail, and adding postage to each payment. Now, I can go to my account on line and schedule payment the same day I receive the bill.
Example, I received a Dr. bill in the mail today. I have already scheduled it to be paid on the 4th of February. I mark the bill paid, and the part of the bill that I would normally pay with payment, I put in a basket on my desk marked Payment pending and mark it with the date the payment is scheduled. Once the payment shows on my account, I shred that part. It saves me time, postage and the worry that perhaps my creditor will decide to take an automatic payment out before my money is deposited in the bank. Sure would be upsetting to pay a $25 overdraft fee on a $10 payment (01/30/2005)
I use online banking in Australia - I love it! I like the ability to just log on and check my account and mortgage anytime. I also found that when paying down my mortgage being able to check the falling balance in real time, rather than waiting for a statement, is very motivating. There are risks with on line banking but there are with everything in life. I have probably more risk of being killed(!) driving 40km to the my bank to transfer money from one account to another, than I have of getting money stolen from my account while banking on line. But you must "follow the rules" for safe banking recommended by your bank.
We have had a great experience with an ING Direct Orange Savings Account. The interest rate began at 2.2%-- as high as many CD's in our area, and now the interest rate has risen to 2.35%. We know the more money we sock away, the more interest we earn, so the high interest rate is a great incentive to save. Plus, unlike having a CD, with the Orange account our money is readily available in case of emergency. The account links to our account at a local brick and mortar bank so we can transfer funds almost instantly. We have never tried a bill pay program that automatically pays the monthly bills, but I do pay most of our bills online through the online banking feature of our brick and mortar bank.
Another benefit to online banking is if you use a debit card, transactions are posted right away and you can view your transactions online, so there is no need to record everything in a check register. We only record checks since they don't go through right away. One important tip though-- always go directly to the bank's website to enter any information, even if you receive an email that appears to be from your online bank. Sometimes this is spam and you don't want to give away your account information to strangers. The real online bank sites, however, are very safe-- your account information is kept secure.
I have paid all of my bills online with Bank of America for two years and have no problems what so ever. I even renew my magazine subscriptions, pay tax bills and have set up a automatic payment each month to our gardener. Think of the money you will be saving on postage. I highly recommend it. (01/30/2005)
By Ann in CA.
I have been using online banking for 4 months now and love it! Since I don't have a long history with it, I can't really say about security; however, I've not had any problem so far. (01/30/2005)
I have used the Bank of America to pay nearly all my bills for over 4 years. The only problem I ever had was in entering $550 instead of the 55.00 I meant to order. Even then you can delete the check or stop the payment. I have all fixed amount payments like my car paid automatically which really helps your credit score. (01/30/2005)
By Tammy in Bakersfield
I have been using Bank Of America's on line banking for nearly 4 years now. I have had no problems whatsoever. I love it! It has saved me time and money over writing checks and mailing them out.
I like the fact that I can actually view the checks that I do write and that every on line payment that I make gives you a confirmation number.
It sure does help me out when the weather is bad and I can't get to the bank or post office or when I just don't feel like getting in the car and traveling.
I highly recommend it! (01/31/2005)
To Lynn in California. I've been using online banking ever since my husband died. I don't drive, and I find it to be a terrific way to pay my bills, transfer funds from one account to another, etc. I live in Canada, but I'm sure it's safe everywhere, as long as you're careful and don't give anybody else your password, etc. Good luck (02/01/2005)
By Colleen in Canada
I also do on-line banking, I bank at Wells Fargo but I do all my online banking at mycheckfree.com. It is great and FREE. (02/09/2005)
I have been conducting on line banking for over 3 years. I love it! I have NOT had any issues or problems, AT ALL! I've used Quicken since 1994 and, most recently, have been using it to pay my bills on line. Prior to using Quicken on line, I would pay my bills right from our bank's website. It is so easy, painless, and a cost savings (you don't even have to buy stamps) Our bank provides this Quicken service free of charge with our Free checking account. Not a bad deal at all! (02/17/2005)
O.k. It looks like online banking is a good thing. I'm just starting to get into it. (Still have to get my bill payments set up) Since I live on a dead end road and only have a car half the time, I think this really could be a plus in my busy life.
One thing that my computer expert son just showed me, that was after you leave the banking site, ALWAYS click on the Sign Out Button, don't just close the window. Also you should click on the Tools at the top, click on Internet Options and a box will come up that will allow you to delete all cookies and history etc. of your recent travels. He said this was as very important security measure to do every time you go to your banking site. Then there will be no evidence hanging around of your banking activities. (03/23/2005)
I know you are probably adviced out. But, I would also like to say that I have been using bofa's online banking for 4 years and I love it. I have never had any problems. It is quick and easy and I manage my money and accounts more efficiently. I definitely recommend! (03/27/2005)
As I see it now the online bill payment took a turn for the worse with the new changes. Since the funds are no longer taken out when the online bill payment is processed we now have outstanding payments that must be written down just like writing paper checks.
Further there is no way one can see what payments are outstanding, i.e., not withdrawn from our accounts forcing customers to write down payments into my check register like the old days.
We should have been given the option to either opt for the new method or stay with the old one. I preferred the old one as I don't normally write paper checks and could always go online to check my balances. Now I really don't have a clear idea as I didn't write down my payments in my check register assuming all bases were covered by BOA.
If this change was instituted to obtain over limit fees, I suspect that is what it will do because now we are back to square one, just like writing checks and keeping track of them. I see no other recourse than to look for a new form of online payment. It is sad because I used to brag about how good this service was; now it's the opposite.
Further to this, this change has taken the simple task of paying bills and returned it to the dark ages of writing down our online bill payments in a check register and balancing checkbooks again. Argh! (02/17/2006)
I've used on line banking for the past 5 years, never would want to go back to writing my own checks. Saves more time for doing other things. I can check my banking everyday and keep track of my account much easier. (06/08/2008)