Online Banking Basics
Banks offer a variety of online services to members who hold a checking or savings account, or have a credit card issued by that bank. The simplest service offers access to a checking account so you can view transactions and transfer funds. Checking your account balance just requires you to log in and click on the proper account. Your online statement will show you deposits and withdrawals, their specific amounts, and the person or business that the transaction came from. If you wrote a physical check, it will show the check number. You can order a copy of the check, but the banks will usually charge a small fee for this service.
It's also possible to pay many of your bills directly from your online banking account. For example, your local electric company will have a financial account set up with your bank. You can then have your online bank send money from your checking account to the electric company to pay your bill each month. You don't even have to remember to do this -- the payments can be sent automatically on the date of your choice. Just remember to keep enough money in the account.
You might have other financial accounts with your bank that can also be managed online. This could include home equity loans or savings accounts. You can even apply for a new credit line or a home equity loan online with some banks.
Of course, there are fees associated with online banking. Basic online access is usually free, or may carry a small monthly fee. If your account is intended to be used primarily online, you might be charged a fee if you go to a physical bank and interact with a teller there. Like most checking accounts, there may be minimum amounts which must be kept in the account to avoid penalties or additional fees. Make sure you talk with a bank officer when you set up your accounts to make sure you find the right combination of services and fees to fit your specific needs.
Now that we've covered the essentials of online banking, we'll see how you can use online banking to help manage your credit.