5-minute guide to internet banking

5-minute guide to internet banking

What is online banking?

“It’s a secure and free way to do your banking using a computer, smartphone or tablet, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” says Neil Aitken of the Payments Council.

How does it work?

You access your bank account via your bank or building society’s website. As well as choosing a password, the bank provides you with layers of security to ensure only you can access your details, such as asking questions only you would know the answers to.

What can I use online banking for?

You can check your balance, confirm a transaction, transfer money between accounts (often instantly), pay bills and make payments. You can set up standing orders and schedule bills to be paid on a particular day.

It’s a great benefit for anyone who finds it physically difficult to get to a branch

What are the benefits?

For a start, there’s never a queue! “It’s also a great benefit for anyone who finds it physically difficult to get to a branch,” says Neil.

How do I sign up?

Most importantly, you need to be online. Your bank or building society will be able to tell you how to register. You’ll also be able to find the information on their website. Once you are set up, you can download a special application, or ‘app’, which will take you straight to your account’s log-in screen.

What will I need to get started?

Your bank will post out details you need to register for the service through their website. You'll be provided with information that explains how to use the service and you'll need to set up a password.

How to create a  password

Don't leave yourself vulnerable to fraudsters with an easy-to-guess password. World Memory Champion Dominic O'Brien suggests creating a coded story: "Take the Password 8:30121hP99. Imagine it's 8:30 in the morning and you’re having a one-2-one meeting with little harry Potter who's holding 99 red balloons. If you were to create a unique 11-character password this way, it would take 7,000 years to crack!"

Is there a particular bank that provides the best service?

Nationwide, Metro, Natwest/RBS, did well for online banking security in a recent Which? test. The Co-op Bank online service is very easy to use.

How can I be sure my money will be safe?

Banks and building societies have security measures in place to protect accounts from fraudsters, but there are some steps you can take, too:

  • If you’re using a computer, keep the anti-virus software up to date.
  • Never share your log-in details or password with anyone!
  • When transferring money, double check the amount you are sending and the account number and sort code. If you get it wrong it can be difficult to get the money back.
  • Don’t click on links in emails that say they are from your bank.
  • For more advice on staying safe online, visit payyourway.org.uk and read our safe banking tips.

Read how to improve your credit rating plus how to make the most of 0% balance transfer credit cards.