There are few banks today that don’t have an online presence. Almost all banks have recognized the simplicity and cost advantages of online banking and have begun offering some form of online banking and online bill pay to their customers. As these services evolve, online banking becomes increasingly easier to use and as many customers are finding out, online banking isn’t just easy, it’s cheaper, too.

Your Bank

If you’re like most people, you already have a few accounts open with a traditional bank. You might be a customer of a regional bank or a large nationwide chain. Even if you’re a member of a credit union, your accounts are most likely accessible in the same way as traditional banking accounts.

Your bank most likely offers some form of online banking already. But even if their online presence is still developing, there are ways to access your accounts easily over the internet to simplify your own record keeping and account options.

Pay Bills Online

There are several ways to pay bills online if your current bank does not offer the service directly. Websites such as Yahoo, Microsoft Money and CheckFree allow you to send payments to various companies and institutions and access your traditional accounts on your behalf. Some bill pay services require you to download software and install it, or you may be able to take care of your bills completely over the internet. There is often a fee for this service and that fee may be higher than some of your other options. Read the options and fees associated with any transaction before jumping into any of these programs.

Financial Software

If you use Quicken or Microsoft Money, many of the traditional banks allow you to connect that software to your bank account. Financial software such as these helps you keep track of your payments, deposits and other transactions. They allow you to compile information to develop budgets and keep track of your spending in various categories. By connecting the programs directly to your bank account, you can work with all of your data on your home computer.

You may also be able to pay bills through your software as Quicken connects to your bank using the same program, CheckFree, which you can use to pay bills independently. The major advantages of using a financial program setup, however, are that your bank charges less for the bill pay than independent services, and you’ll also have nicely consolidated information come tax time.

Internet Banking

Increasingly, banks of all sizes are offering complete online banking. This means you can navigate to the bank’s website online and sign into your accounts without any software downloaded to your computer. This sort of internet banking can be done from any computer in the world as you need only a login id and password.

With full internet banking you can see your accounts in (almost) real-time, pay bills, transfer money and take care of any number of routine account maintenance items. While some banks are not completely online yet, it is likely they will offer a complete range of services shortly as online banking is not only simple and cost effective for customers; it’s cost effective for banks, too.

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