How to Set Up Online Banking

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Many banks have introduced online banking services in recent years. These systems offer a high level of convenience to bank customers, allowing them to perform many banking functions from the privacy of their homes via the Internet. Most online banking systems offer the ability to get account information, pay bills, make transfers between accounts, stop payment on checks and view current and previous statements. If you've not yet enrolled in an online banking program but are considering doing so, the following information may be of assistance.

Selection

  • If you bank at a small bank or savings and loan, you may want to switch to a larger institution for your online banking needs. Online banking systems are complex and expensive to implement and maintain, and smaller banks generally don't have the funds and other resources necessary to offer top-notch online banking services. By contrast, large banks like Citibank, Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo have had online systems for many years, have steadily improved them, and have the resources to expand their functions and maintain them well. Also, you'll want to choose a bank that does not charge for online banking. The banks named above all offer online banking for free.

Sign Up

  • Some banks require you to fill out a special application to enroll in their online banking systems but many do not. The banks named in the previous section all allow any customer to access their online banking systems without a special application. The first time you log on, you'll be prompted to enter your identifying information, such as your account number, ATM card number or Social Security number. You'll be asked to choose a user name and password, which should both be items that you can easily remember. Your password should be different from the PIN code that you use at the bank's ATMs.

Account Setup

  • You'll probably want to use your online banking system to pay bills, so you should gather all of your regular bills and set aside some time to enter the information about them into the system. Also, make a list of your other expenses, like your rent or mortgage, car loan and other obligations for which you may not receive a statement, and write down the addresses where you normally send your payments. Then go online and enter the data into the system. Many online banking systems are already set up to pay many merchants, banks and other creditors electronically, and most have a search capability that allows you to find these organizations on their systems. You probably will not need to enter the payment address for these organizations, but you'll still need to enter the correct account number from your statement.

Recurring Payments

  • Most online banking systems have the ability to make recurring payments of a fixed amount at a regular interval that you specify. This is especially useful when paying things like your rent, mortgage or car loan, which are usually the same amount each month and due at the same time of the month. If you schedule a recurring payment, you won't need to worry about making your payment each month, as it will be made automatically for you. However, if the amounts and/or due dates change, you'll need to go online and adjust them accordingly.

Other Functions

  • Virtually all online banking systems offer the ability to transfer money between accounts at the bank, or even to and from accounts at other institutions. If you've made a practice of putting money in a savings account on regular basis, you can usually set up a recurring transfer for that amount, or, if you prefer, you can do it on an ad hoc basis. Many systems offer a variety of other functions, such as obtaining copies of statements and canceled checks, issuing a stop payment, and ordering new checks. Once you sign up for online banking, spend some time exploring your system and acquaint yourself with the various functions it offers.

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