As a mobile community, military members tend to welcome technology that helps them stay connected. But one convenient tool that some military members may overlook is the ability to manage their daily finances online, whether they are at home or deployed overseas.
Going digital with your bank accounts is easy. In fact, many online banks are making it downright irresistible, offering sweepstakes, prizes, and other incentives for first-time users.If you're unsure about online banking, these answers to five commonly asked questions may help:
What is Web Bill Pay?Six Online Banking Benefits
- Check account balances.
- View statements.
- Transfer funds between accounts.
- Conduct account transactions, such as getting payoff quotes or stopping payment on a check.
- Download account information into personal finance software, such as Quicken? or Microsoft Money.?
- Pay bills with Web bill pay.
Using your online banking account to pay bills is faster than writing checks, saves money on stamps, and doesn't require any special software. You just pick the date and time for the bill to be paid, either for one-time payments (such as utilities or a doctor's bill) or an automatic monthly payment for a standard amount (such as a car payment or mortgage).
Online bankers can continue to receive paper statements from the businesses they use, or some companies will send e-statements.
You can even send electronic payments to people you used to pay by check -- even the babysitter. It only takes a few minutes to add the people or business you need to pay, and then you pick where the payment will come from -- your checking or savings account.
Is it easy to use?
If you're comfortable surfing the Web, you can use online banking. Checking your balance and reviewing transactions is just a point and click. Many banks offer free tutorials to walk you through their online bill pay programs, showing you how to set up your payee list and send payments.
It only takes a minute to enter information for each vendor you use, and once you're done, it can save you time. No writing checks, licking envelopes, or trips to the mailbox. Best of all, most banks guarantee your payments will arrive on time so you never have to worry about late fees.
Is online banking safe?
Yes. Reputable online banks have secure Web sites, and will tell you what they do to protect customer privacy and reduce your risk of identity fraud. Check with your bank about its online security procedures, and find out how your personal information is safeguarded. In addition, make sure you will not be held responsible for any unauthorized activity and that payments are guaranteed to arrive on time.
No matter which bank you choose, remember that security is a shared responsibility. It?s important to protect your computer with Internet security features, and always choose difficult-to-guess passwords using letters, numbers, and symbols.
How much does it cost to bank online?
Most banks don't charge customers for online banking, but the meaning of "free" varies from bank to bank. As with traditional banks, some online banks have fees for additional services, minimum balance requirements, and charges for using other banks: ATMs. The charges can add up quickly, so examine the fine print before signing up.
Can I still talk to a real person?
Larger online banks have a team of trained professionals who are available to help by telephone or email. Even if most transactions can be handled online, access to customer service representatives is important if unusual circumstances arise.
Online banking offers the tremendous benefit of being able to control your accounts anytime, anywhere, whether you're in Birmingham or Baghdad. It's the difference in fees, features, and service that can make or break your online banking experience.
Online Banking is Booming
A 2005 survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project revealed that online banking is taking America by storm. Among the key findings:
Compare and Save Online with USAA
For more than 80 years, military families have called on USAA for financial services and advice.To explore the convenience and flexibility that online banking can bring to your desktop, JUST VISIT USAA at www.usaa.com.