Mobile banking allows you to pay bills on your commute, check your bank balance from the store checkout line and transfer funds during television commercials. But another feature mobile banking offers is the opportunity to sign up for text reminders about your account.
Though different banks may offer slightly different alerts, these are the kinds of reminders most users can receive:
- daily balances
- notifications that an account has been credited
- notifications that an account has been debited
- notifications that an account's balance is above or below a certain amount
- reminders about upcoming due dates on bank-related loans or bills that are paid online
- reminders when those bills are overdue
- reminders about maturity dates of certificates of deposit
Setting up these reminders can be done online or in person, depending on the bank. Let's say you'd like to receive a text message when your checking account exceeds $10,000, because you want to deposit the excess into your savings account. If your bank allows online setup, you'd be able to view all your accounts, select the one that you'd like to receive updates about (in this case, checking) and enter the values that will serve as your thresholds for alerts ($10,000, for example). You would then likely need your phone's SMS address to direct the messages. Once you received the alert, you'd be able to text your request for a funds transfer to your savings account.
With most banks, you could receive as many alerts as you'd like; you could have one reminder that alerted you to more than $10,000 in your checking account, as well as one that told you when your funds were dipping dangerously low. Remember, though, that charges will vary according to your cell phone plan. Though the messages will not be encrypted, banks assure that mobile banking is safe, even if you were to lose your phone. However, treat these text messages the way you would any e-mail from your bank. Don't click on links that may lead to phishing scams, and be wary of any e-mail that asks for private information, such as a Social Security number or a password [source: Choney].
Though people are still getting the hang of mobile banking, one study already demonstrates the possible benefits. In tests conducted in the Philippines, Peru and Bolivia, researchers found that sending text messages about saving increased people's account balances by 6 percent, indicating that a quick reminder was more efficient than a financial lecture or a long letter [source: Peterson]. The researchers believe these findings could translate to the United States as well. It may be that a simple text message is all the reminder you need to keep an eye on your financial future.