Online banking and online bank accounts are one of the most popular methods of banking in the digital age. Most banks offer it as an option, but what does online banking really mean for you and how is it different to the traditional forms of banking?
Just like all banking products, there are pros, cons and numerous factors to consider when deciding whether online banking is suitable for you.
What is an online bank account?
An online bank account is simply a bank account that you can access via the internet. Almost all banks, credit unions and building societies in Australia offer online bank account services.
How do I access an online bank account?
You can view, make financial changes and pay bills via online bank accounts. You can do all of this on the internet and through selected and specially designed apps for each individual financial institutions. All you need is a username or customer number or account number, as well as a password.
Can I still access physical money kept in online bank accounts?
You can withdraw physical cash money from online back accounts at some ATMs or from your local bank branch. If your chosen financial institution doesn’t have a physical bank branch, you should be able to withdraw cash from ATMs, but you may have to pay a withdrawal fee.
What are some of the features of an online bank account?
One of the major positives of online bank accounts is the choice of additional features people can get from them. Banks now heavily invest in online features for their online bank accounts, which helps to give consumers choices in how they bank.
Online bank accounts have a range of possible digital features:
- Some banks will offer electronic notification services that are often faster than traditional postal services. Some of these notifications will include text messages about transactions, transfers or balance updates. Other notifications can also come through the form of emails or push notifications from smartphone banking apps.
- You can often download and print off lost or misplaced financial documents from your bank. This is a service that is most of the time free of charge and allows customers the chance to print off physical paper versions of specific documents. Also, many financial institutions will allow users to download and print off documents that are often years old. This is important for some financial transactions, including taking out a car loan or applying for a rental property.
What are the pros and cons of having an online bank account?
Just like all types of bank accounts, there are pros and cons associated with online bank accounts. Consumers should always compare and understand all the elements of online bank accounts before setting one up.
- Because online back accounts are kept on the internet, you can access your accounts on the go from most computers and smartphones through websites and mobile apps
- You don’t need to wait for monthly balances to be mailed to you because you can view your account balances online
- Some online bank accounts pay interest
- You can quickly update personal information through websites or apps
- Online bank accounts let you transfer money and pay bills online
- If you want to access physical cash, you may pay a fee when withdrawing it from an ATM
- Some banks charge fees for some elements of online banking
- Often you will be charged a fee for a paper copy of a monthly statement mailed to a postal address
How do I apply for an online bank account?
Here’s the good news for anyone who wants an online bank account: most everyday or savings bank accounts come with the option to bank online. Some fees do exist for online banking, but the majority of financial institutions will allow you to check your accounts online.
Every bank will have a different approach to applying for an online bank account. Usually you apply for an online bank account via a bank’s website or at a branch.
The tricky thing about online bank accounts is some banks don’t have local branches, so you will need to apply for your new account on the phone or online.
Just like opening a traditional bank account, there are some are a few legalities when it comes to opening an online bank account in Australia. You must be a resident of Australia with an Australian mailing address, and you must be over the age of 12 to open the account on your own.
When applying online, there are some other things you might need to consider. Often, you’ll be asked to provide two forms of legal identification. These can include a passport, an immigration visa, a driver’s licence or a Medicare card.
When applying you should consider whether an online bank account is the most appropriate banking product for your financial situation.