A Guide To Online Banking | comparethemarket.com

A simples guide

A guide to online banking

The internet’s a great way to make those boring household jobs slightly more interesting. Whether you like to use it in your pyjamas in front of the TV or when you’re out and about, it’s convenient and allows you to access stuff all day, every day at a time and place that suits you.


Banking’s no different, 56% of adults in the UK use the internet to bank online. If you’re in the majority then you’re probably pretty internet savvy and feel comfortable accessing your accounts online, but if you’re one of the other 44% who have yet to discover online banking, but want to – this is the guide for you.

What exactly is ‘online banking’?

If we’re going to be technical about it, online (or internet) banking is when you access your bank account and carry out financial transactions using the internet. This can be using your computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Banks have caught on and many have apps that you can download to specifically use with your tablet or smartphone – giving you even quicker access to your account no matter where you are. More than eight million people downloaded banking apps in the last 18 months and they’re accessed more than ten million times a day.

Most banks offer an online banking service and it’s usually free. You’ll be able to do pretty much all of your day to day banking online, such as:

  • Check balances
  • Pay bills
  • Transfer money
  • Make payments to existing payees
  • Manage your credit card
  • Keep track of a linked mortgage or other loans

Being able to access your money 24/7 also means you can keep on top of your finances. Another benefit when you sign up for online banking, is that you’ll usually have the option to go ‘paperless’ and receive all your statements and bank communication via e-mail. Not only will it be easier to file, access and print off statements when you want but you’ll also save a few trees in your lifetime making you feel good about yourself.


But isn’t online banking security an issue?

Banks go out of their way to ensure online facilities are secure, from asking you to set up security questions to issuing you with devices that generate random codes based on your PIN or card (or both) so that you can log in securely.

Of course, even if your bank uses state of the art technology to secure their website, you’ll need to do your bit too – here are some top online banking tips to help your accounts stay safe:

  • Be alert – check your statements as often as you can, if you notice anything unusual or can’t account for anything, contact your bank straightaway.
  • Be wary – don’t give out your passwords or personal details to anyone claiming to be from your bank – whether this is through emails or telephone calls. It’s highly unlikely that your bank will ever ask you for your password.
  • Log out – an easy one to forget but you should always make sure you log out of your online banking session or close down any apps on your smartphone or tablet.
  • Know how you’re connected – stick to using Wi-Fi connections that are secure. Public Wi-Fi connections such as those in coffee shops usually don’t offer the same level of security as your Wi-Fi at home.
  • Keep virus free – try and ensure that your anti-virus software is up to date on your computer or tablet.
  • Passwords – if you have more than one bank account, make sure you use different passwords to access each one. Passwords should be hard to guess – ‘password123’ just isn’t good enough, you should mix it up and use a combination of words, numbers and symbols. 
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What happens if something goes wrong?

We’ve all done it – your finger’s slipped and added an extra 0 or you’ve selected the wrong person to transfer money to. If something does go wrong, call your bank as soon as possible.

If the worst does happen and someone’s hacked into your account, don’t panic. Call your bank immediately and tell them what’s happened, many have dedicated fraud helplines and they’ll be able to help you more effectively if you contact them as soon as you notice that something’s wrong.

Your bank will refund you if you have been on the receiving end of fraud, unless you’ve been considered to be ‘grossly negligent’. So don’t save your username, account numbers and passwords on your computer under something like ‘bank account log in details’.

How do I set up online banking accounts?

Most banks will provide online access. Banks will have different methods of setting you up for their online services so check their website, call, or see them in your local branch to find out more. Security is fairly tight (as you’d imagine) in the first instance and you’ll usually only be able to access your accounts online after you’ve received an activation code. If your bank doesn’t provide an online service and it’s something you want, there’s nothing to stop you switching to a bank that does.

What’s next?

There are many benefits to banking online – not least because you don’t have to wait a month for a statement to tell you whether you’ve spent too much. Whilst you’re contemplating whether online banking’s for you, why not compare current accounts or savings accounts and see whether you’re getting what you want from your account. 

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