Do you enjoy waiting in line at a bank? Paying $30 for a box of checks? Using a checking account ledger? Nope, probably not.
Most of us don’t have time to do banking as we used to, so mobile banking might be the ultimate solution. It allows you to store all your financial information in one place — in your purse or pocket, 24/7, on your bank’s website or mobile banking app.
If you’re unfamiliar with how mobile banking works, we’ve put together a short guide to mobile banking and how it can make your life easier.
Quick Look: The Best Banks For Mobile Banking
- Bank of America
- Ally Bank
- Citi Bank
What is Mobile Banking?
Mobile banking is just like traditional banking without the need to visit a bank branch or wait in line for a teller. Instead of physically going into a bank to check your balance, you use a banking app or log into your bank’s website to view your account virtually.
Mobile banking allows you to do your banking at home, on vacation, at work — anywhere you can take your phone or computer.
How Does Mobile Banking Work?
Mobile banking works by connecting you to your bank account through your bank’s website or mobile banking app from your bank or credit union.
If you choose to do your banking through your financial institution’s website, you provide personal information such as your name, phone number and email address as well as a unique username and password. You’ll need to log in through a web browser to access your account information and check your account balance, transfer money and pay bills.
If you use a mobile banking app, there’s no need for you to log in to a website with a web browser. You simply download the app, register your information and create a unique username and password.
Is it Safe?
Many consumers may be hesitant to use mobile banking services because of safety and security risks. Concerns regarding identity theft, data breaches and computer viruses are just a few reasons people don’t sign up.
If you take precautions, you can protect your money. Here are a few tips from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), a regulatory agency that monitors and insures banks and credit unions.
Use Strong Passwords and PINs
Don’t use easy-to-guess usernames and passwords that incorporate your name, birthdate or Social Security number.
If your bank offers an option of extra layers of security such as security questions and text notifications every time there’s a login to your account, it’s smart to use it. Sure, it may not be convenient to have to wait for a text before you can log in, but that additional step makes it that much harder for thieves to access your information.
Sign Up for Alerts
Most banks give you the option of establishing preferences for notifications if certain transactions are performed. For example, if a large purchase is made or multiple withdrawals are made in another state, you can request that a notification be sent to you via text message or email.
This is a smart way to detect unauthorized transactions quickly.
Know What’s Fake and What’s Not
Reputable banks will never ask for your personal or account information using any of these communication channels. If you click on a fraudulent link, a hacker can more easily access your account information, so don’t be tempted. If you have a question as to the authenticity of any bank message, call your financial institution’s customer service line immediately.
Protect Your Phone
Don’t store your banking info, passwords or PIN on your phone. Also, place a locking feature on it and add in facial recognition or fingerprint ID.
Research Banking Apps
Check out the bank’s website and verify that the website address is authentic. Read user reviews and check ratings with the Better Business Bureau.
How Will Your Bank Protect You?
Read your financial institution’s online policies so you understand what happens when your debit card is stolen or your bank account is hacked. Be sure you’re comfortable with the level of security protection your institution offers.
The FDIC and the NCUA (National Credit Union Administration) insures all money deposited in banks and credit unions up to $250,000, whether you use mobile banking or not. Even if you bank at a financial institution that’s 100% online, such as Ally Bank, you’re equally covered. Most offer as many safety features as possible to protect your money.
For example, Bank of America offers fingerprint sign-in, automatic debit card locking if your card is misplaced or lost and an Online Banking Security Center, which sends you reminders every 90 days to change your passwords.
How to Set Up Mobile Banking
There are several different ways you can start using mobile banking.
- Download a mobile banking app, either from an online bank or traditional bank, on your phone.
- Register for mobile banking services through an online bank, traditional bank or credit union. When you want to check your account balance or transfer money, you just log in via phone or computer.
- Combine both traditional and mobile banking. When you need to go into your bank for a cashier’s check, loan or cash, you can. Most of your financial business can be conducted using your smartphone, computer or tablet.
What to Look for in a Mobile Bank
You want your money at the best banks, those that have high ratings for customer service, performance and security, and the same is true for mobile banks. Here are some tips you might find useful.
Great Customer Service
No matter how efficient a bank’s mobile app or website is, if it doesn’t provide great customer service, it’s not worth patronizing. If you run into a problem with your account or a technical issue with a mobile app, you need to be able to quickly reach a knowledgeable, friendly and helpful customer service representative.
Exceptional Security Features
Given the fact that mobile banking is 100% reliant on the internet, it’s extremely vulnerable to potential hackers, malware, computer viruses and security breaches.
If you plan to do a lot of mobile banking, you want to be sure your bank has an excellent security rating and outstanding safety features.
Low Maintenance Fees
Look for a bank that charges little or no maintenance fees for transactions, account balance minimums and other services.
Best Overall Mobile Banks
We did some extensive research and carefully chose 3 highly-rated online banks you might want to consider: Bank of America, Ally Bank and Citibank.
Bank of America
J.D. Power has named Bank of America’s mobile offerings as an “Outstanding Mobile Experience” and was ranked #1 by Dynatrace, a digital experience management company, for 9 years in a row. A few standout features of Bank of America’s mobile app include:
- Erica, a built-in virtual financial assistant, is available 24/7 to perform hundreds of tasks such as searching for past transactions, locking and unlocking debit cards, and transferring money between accounts.
- Cashback and reward deals allow you to earn up to 15% back on purchases at stores and restaurants.
- Mobile banking security guarantee covers you for all fraudulent transactions.
If you’re looking for a bank with excellent security protection and outstanding customer service, Bank of America is a good choice.
Ally Bank offers online checking accounts with no monthly maintenance fees and no minimum opening balance requirements. It offers 2.20% annual percentage yield (APY refers to the annual rate of interest you’ll earn based on a 365-day period) on all balance tiers and provides 24/7 customer support.
Ally Bank specializes in providing mobile banking services with no brick-and-mortar branch locations. You can do just about anything with Ally Bank’s mobile banking app as you’d do in a traditional bank, such as:
- Paying bills
- Making deposits
- Transferring money
- Finding nearby ATMs
- Searching for transactions and viewing statements
As mentioned earlier, security concerns are a big reason people are hesitant to download mobile banking apps.
Citibank offers a number of security features to protect your money, such as 128-bit SSL encryption, extended validation SSL certificate, additional authentication, date/time stamp, session timeouts and automatic notifications.
Citibank will assign a dedicated identity theft solutions specialist to your case if you’ve been a victim of identity theft or fraud.
Citi will automatically contact all three credit bureaus to alert them about the fraud and monitor your credit score. Since safety and security are high priority for banking consumers, consider Citibank when you’re looking for a reliable mobile bank.
Embrace Mobile Banking
If you use precautions such as those above and take advantage of the security services your bank offers, you’ll be able to ensure the safety of your assets.
Similar to a budget app, saving time and money might be the ultimate appeal. Mobile banking apps can help you monitor your credit score and check your balances daily with the ease of a simple tap and swipe.