Many of us can recall opening our first bank account; for me it was when I got my first paycheck from my very first job. I was 16 years old and as I sat across from the Customer Service Rep, I felt a sense of pride at taking another step toward adulthood. I chose my first bank, as many do, because it was the one my parents used. I looked forward to going into the branch each week to cash my paycheck, deposit some of my earnings and chat with the friendly staff. Over the years, as my life has changed, so too have my banking habits. In fact, I have kept the same bank through college, several moves and career changes, and have not needed to step foot in a branch in more than ten years. How is this possible you ask? Through the use of technology, there are so many options available to those who want to keep their bank, even when they do not live close to a branch.
- Direct Deposit– Okay, this is a pretty basic one. Most employers offer direct deposit of pay to their employees’ accounts. It’s often easier for the business to manage payroll and cuts down on the cost of printing paper checks. It’s also beneficial to the employees because the money is in their accounts on payday and available for them to use. They no longer have to wait in long lines on a Thursday or Friday afternoon to deposit their checks at the bank.
- Online and Mobile Banking– Being able to check my balances and see what has cleared my account anytime, from anywhere is essential to banking remotely. I can review my statements right from my tablet or phone, make transfers and pay bills with the simple click of a button. On the rare occasion that I receive a check (not often because, remember, I have direct deposit) I can take a picture of it using my cell phone and it’s deposited directly to my account. I even completed the entire mortgage process electronically, never having to go into a branch, and still received personal service from my lender.
- Bill Pay– While this is technically part of online banking, using Bill Pay services helps me manage my finances and budget. Adulting typically comes with a lot of bills and it can be cumbersome to keep track of when certain things are due. Often consumers have their bills set to automatically come out of their bank accounts on the due dates or they go directly to the biller’s website to pay the bills. How time consuming is that, not to mention what happens when you have an unexpected expense and need to change the date of one of those automatic payments? It’s not easy and many billers require 30 days’ notice prior to making any changes to payments. Using Bill Pay services puts the control in my hands. I can set up all of my billers and schedule when I want payments to come out of my account. I typically do this on the days my direct deposit goes in. Then my bills are paid and I know exactly how much money I have left to spend. When I need to change the date of a payment, I have the control to do so. I can also receive many of my bills electronically through the site to keep track of balances and due dates. How easy is that?
- CardValet– Protect yourself from fraud by turning your debit card ON when you want to use it and turning it OFF when you’re done. How many times have your shuffled through your bag looking for your debit card? With this mobile app, you can turn off your card via your mobile device within seconds. You can even set up alerts to monitor your spending, block certain types of transactions, or notify you when and where your card has been used. CardValet puts you in control of your debit card! Click here to download the CardValet mobile app.
- Online Chat– Not all banks offer online chat but it is becoming more prevalent. This is a great feature I can utilize on the rare occasion when I need assistance and can’t get to a branch. I can simply start a chat session and will be connected with a knowledgeable associate who can assist me.
Banking with a mobile app may not be favorable for everyone, but for those of us who wish to keep the same bank, even though we may not be local to a branch, it’s a great and convenient option. If you use a community bank, as I do, you can bank with your local online bank without losing that personal service that we all value when we need help.