December 30, 2015

Guest Post: Online Banking Tips for Beginners

If you’ve decided to start banking online, you’ve picked a great time—thanks to improved security, more intuitive online interfaces and the ubiquity of mobile devices, banking online has never been easier. Here’s a step-by-step guide to online banking for those who are new to the game.

First Things First

It’s important to distinguish between “online banking” and the similar-sounding “Internet banking.” The former entails using the website of a brick-and-mortar financial institution, while the latter generally refers to financial institutions that operate entirely online and don’t have concrete branches you can visit. We’ll be talking about “online banking”.

To get started, you can either go to your credit union or visit their website and look for the online banking section. The enrollment process typically involves entering your account number, offering some identifying information and creating a confidential code for personal access. After enrollment, you’ll be able to see your existing accounts or pay your bills, among many other services, at any time by logging into the site.

Benefits of Online Banking


One of the biggest benefits of online banking is convenience. Once your account is set up, you can check your balance and pay bills from anywhere, at any time. Your busy weekday schedule and your distance from your branch become non-issues.

Easy Monitoring

Due to the advent of mobile banking, online banking conveniently allows easy access to a wide range of financial services. Many credit unions will now send you an immediate alert when your account falls dangerously low or when an unusual charge occurs. You can also track your spending, manage budgets and program your account to automatically pay recurring bills.

Saves Money

Banking online lets you avoid certain costs, such as paying for the checks or stamps needed to mail bills. At Triangle Credit Union, online banking is a free service and it provides a variety of helpful tools for you to use, including budgeting software and remote check deposit.


Since online banking allows you to monitor your account more closely and receive alerts faster, in some respects you may be safer from fraud. Experts say that a closely monitored account is a more secure one.

More on Safety

With everything we hear about the dangers of the Internet, entering private information into a website can seem risky. However, experts note that sending your banking information through the mail is also a fraud risk, and you can rest assured that credit unions invest lots of time and money in keeping their sites secure. Although your credit union has online security measures, it’s also incumbent on you to ensure no one finds your login information. This starts with your password. Be sure not to use your name, birthday, username, or any other passwords that may be easy to guess (“password” and “123456” remain absurdly common). If you must write your password and username down to remember them, keep the paper somewhere safe (i.e. not your wallet). Also, think twice before logging into your account from a public computer or on a public wireless network. Even on computers you trust, always double check that you click “log out” before closing your browser window. One common kind of online fraud involves email. Your credit union will never ask you to send them confidential information, such as your username or password, via email. Don’t respond to or click on any emails that ask for such information, even if they include your credit union’s logo or otherwise look legitimate. Remember that online banking happens through the credit union’s website or phone app, not through email. If you have any questions or concerns about an email you receive, call your credit union to inquire.

Final Word

Although managing your finances online can seem challenging at first, most people find that it makes life easier. If you’re looking for a convenient way to take care of everything from paying your bills to reaching bigger financial goals, online banking from your laptop or phone has a lot to offer. Enjoy the convenience of the modern era, and be safe!

Damaris, NerdWallet

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