Bricks and mortar banks have been the go-to for banking for decades. In the last few years, we have noticed alternatives to the stand alone banks popping up in the banking industry. As we look forward, even the traditional bricks and mortar banks (e.g. Chase, Schwab, US Bank) are offering more web-based online options for banking. Many banks today offer remote deposits using your phone or online setup of retirement accounts. Some banks are entirely web-based. Given that the student of today is more connected than ever before, here are some options for banking that do not require you to step foot inside a bank:
- HSAs: Health Savings Accounts have been and are some of the greatest savings tools that the government has given to taxpayers. No matter what your income level, you can contribute to and take a deduction on your tax return for amounts put into an HSA, so long as your health plan qualifies.* You can use these tax free dollars to pay medical bills and your balance carries over from year to year if you don’t use all of the money contributed. www.hsabank.com is a great website to do just that. Without having to use a traditional bank, saving in an HSA is easier than ever. Registration is simple and contributions are streamlined. This is a great option for anyone who is working or looking toward their professional careers.
- Online Banking: As bank fees have crept upward for years, people have looked for banks where hidden fees were not the objective. Ally Bank (www.ally.com ), ING Direct (www.ingdirect.com ) and Charles Schwab Bank (www.schwabbank.com) offer online banking options without physical locations. Because they can keep costs low without a physical location, these savings can be passed on to consumers. The downside of such banks may lie in the customer service arena. While your neighborhood banks may recognize you when you walk in, there is no such connection with an online bank. Personal attention is calming to some people who may feel that trusting their money with any bank is risky business in light of recent years’ scandals.
- Mobile Banking and Mobile Deposits: Many traditional banks now offer mobile banking on your smartphones. The downside of this is that fraudulent transactions are more likely to occur, but with the convenience of depositing checks and paying bills from your phone, mobile banking is a great option for people who are busy and rely on their phones throughout the day.
While online banking may be a good option for many people, every financial choice is dependent on one’s own individual risk comfort level. Some people will not shop online because they fear identity theft, while others willingly enter their social security number online for convenience purposes. While online banks are still not likely the best avenue to secure a home or practice purchase loan (you will want to see a human being for that!), online banking has found a way into our present and likely our future. These are all options worth considering.
*Speak to your health insurance company to confirm eligibility.
~Megan Mathers, JD, Pesavento & Pesavento