When you’re looking for a place to store your hard earned money, you don’t want to trust it with just any financial institution. How do you make sure that the place you’re going to put your money is the best place to go? Most people only look at the interest rates that they will receive, but there’s a lot more to it than that.
Here are other factors to consider when shopping for an online savings account:
Access Reliability – Some banks that offer online savings accounts have had reliability issues. If their website is down for technical reasons, it’s just like the bank is closed to you. You can’t make deposits, withdraws or even see how much money you have in your account. Read reviews of the bank you are looking at online before throwing in any of your money, make sure that the bank’s online banking services don’t have any glaring reliability issues
Bank Stability – Behind each online savings account is a bricks and mortar bank. As we’ve learned from the most recent recession, not all banks are on an equal financial footing. Make sure that the bank you are considering signing up with is on a solid financial footing. To do this, head to bankrate.com and check the bank’s stability rating. You should look for a bank with 3 stars or better on BankRate
Ease of Use – The online banking software that banks use to power their website can very quite dramatically in quality. ING Direct currently has one of the best user interfaces to work with and there are definitely others that need improvement. If you’re going to be using their online banking software on a weekly basis, you’re going to want to use something that’s good, not something that looks like it was cobbled together by a group of junior developers.
Signup-Hassle – The signup process for some online banks is much more difficult than others. Some actually force you to print out an application and mail it in. Others require you to fax them information or mail in proof of identification. Before signing up with a bank, review their signup process and make sure it’s not too much of a hassle.
Fees – Some online banks promote the fact they charge absolutely no fees. Others are consciously quiet about what fees they charge. If you dig through their website, you’ll probably be able to find what fees you’ll be charged. Some banks will charge you a monthly service fee if your balance goes below a certain threshold. Others will charge you fees for statements, checks (if you are using a money market account), and certain types of transfers. Make sure that the bank you are with charges no or minimal fees.