How to Use Online Banking

By Jan Goldfield

It's time to use our computers for more than just forwarding jokes, emailing grandchildren and getting photos back from them. They are a magnificent tool to make our banking easier, faster and cheaper. You can save money and time by doing your banking online. It is fast, easy and usually free. You will no longer need stamps, envelopes, checks or a pen. Read on to learn how to use online banking.

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Step 1

Find out your bank's website. If you call them, whomever answers the phone will know. It may be that someone at the bank will talk you through setting up an online account. If not, it's easy.

Step 2

Set up an online account. You will need a user name and password. Your user name can be anything you choose. It might be your own name, a nickname or a made up name. As long as you can remember it, it makes no difference. Now you need a password. The password is what gives you access to your account. Make your password a combination of letters and numbers that only you and other owners of your bank account know. Do not write your password on a sticky note and put in near your computer screen. Don't paste it to your desk. And do not ever give it to anyone who asks, whether on the phone or in your email. Even if the asker says he is from your bank, he is not. He is trying to gain access to your bank account. Guard your password and give it to no one.

Step 3

Gather your monthly bills together. All the bills you would ordinarily pay with a check, envelope and stamp are now going to get paid electronically.

Step 4

Go to your bank's website. You will see dozens of choices there. Choose and click on the one that says "Set up automatic bill pay." You may have to click on "Customer Service" first and then "Set up bill pay." Once you see the bill pay page, look for "Add Payee."

Step 5

You will now add payees to your electronic checkbook. You will find boxes that want the payees name, address and your account number. Be sure you add the account number properly. You will probably be asked twice for each account number just to make sure you entered it correctly. You do not want your payment to go to the wrong account. After you have done this, you will pay your bills. Click on "Pay Bills." One at a time, click on the name of each bill you wish to pay.

Step 6

You will now see a box with a dollar sign in front of it. Enter the amount of the bill you are paying. Be sure to put each number in exactly as you see it on the bill. Be sure your decimal point is in the right place. You do not want to send the utility company $2400.00 if you only owe them $240.00. The computer screen looks much like a check. You have a payee, an amount and a line to put the expense.

Step 7

Now enter the date you want the money to arrive at your creditor's office. Normally enter the date it is due as you see it on the bill. Sometimes this is a weekend or holiday. Just keep making the date a day earlier until it is accepted by the computer. Do this for each bill you wish to pay.

Step 8

Click on 'Send." You will have a chance to review what you have entered. If you are satisfied with all your bill payments, submit them. If you wish to change one, you will have that opportunity. When you know you are right, hit the submit button the final time.

Step 9

Write the transaction down in your check book if you wish to keep a paper record.

Step 10

At any time, you can go back to your online bank account and see what you have paid and if it has been sent yet. Usually you can see your present balance. Chances are you can get statements online as well and even get a daily email alert telling you what activity took place in the past 24 hours and your bank balance. Online banking is easy and saves you much needed money at the same time.