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For the Best Online Banking, Do These 3 Things

Banking, Banking Basics, Checking Accounts, Savings Accounts
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A bank account is more than a storage unit for your money; it’s a toolbox. And in most cases, the tools are free and available anytime you sign in to your bank’s website or mobile app. Here’s how to turn your digital banking into an active aid for managing your money within minutes.

1. Set up two spending alerts

Many banks let you set up and manage alerts that, when triggered, show up as text messages or emails. The alerts vary by bank, but see if you can find these two:

  • Alerts when your account drops below a specific amount. This can be a wake-up call for overspending. If your checking account requires a minimum balance to avoid monthly fees, keep your alert higher than that amount.
  • Alerts when big purchases happen. Call your bank if you see a purchase you didn’t authorize. The faster you get that resolved, the less likely you’ll be responsible for any fraudulent purchases.

» If your bank doesn’t have alerts, many of these online banks do.

2. Make savings automatic

Create a recurring transfer from your checking to your savings account. If you don’t think you’re able to save, go for something small like a few bucks every week or one monthly transfer of $50. Whatever amount you choose, stick to it so you can see the savings build up.

3. Say no to debit card overdraft

Review your bank’s online or mobile banking menu for managing overdraft settings. This step might be the most time-consuming since there may be an overdraft disclosure to read through. Not all banks have a debit card or ATM overdraft policy, but if yours does and you see that you checked a box for it, uncheck it.

Banks need your permission to cover debit card purchases and ATM withdrawals that would normally bring your checking account negative. But each time your bank does, it can charge an overdraft fee, and the median cost is $34. Instead, say no to this overdraft coverage and let those transactions be declined, which doesn’t lead to fees.

» Want an alternative to overdraft coverage? Learn how overdraft protection works

More ways to improve your banking from NerdWallet

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