How to Set Up Online Banking

Online banking puts you in control of your finances. Most banks in the UK offer this service, and it can be quick and easy to get started.

Rebecca Goodman Published on 08 December 2020. Last updated on 17 February 2021.
How to Set Up Online Banking

Instead of visiting your local bank branch to make a payment or check your account balance, it’s now easy to do it online. Whether from a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer, online banking means you can instantly check your accounts and control what’s happening to your money.

But if you’re not using online banking already, what’s the best way to start and how safe is it? Here we answer all the questions you might have to show you how to set up online banking.

How does online banking work?

When you do your banking online, you can use a device connected to the internet to access your account. You may also be able to download an app to your phone or tablet. Whatever method you choose, there’s usually no cost for accessing your bank account this way.

There are lots of services you can do with online banking and, after setting it up, you won’t need to visit your physical bank branch, which is likely to be a big benefit to most people during the pandemic.

What can I do with online banking?

There are lots of ways to manage your money via online banking. These include:

  • Checking your account balance, as well as those of any linked accounts such as a mortgage, savings account or credit card
  • Paying bills and transferring money to other accounts
  • Setting up or cancelling direct debits and standing orders

You can also set up alerts to remind you when to make bill payments. And you can choose to stop receiving paper bank statements.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of online banking?

The ease of instantly being able to access accounts and manage money makes online banking quite popular. Imagine not having to visit a branch when you need to make a change to your accounts.

The disadvantage of online banking is that you’re not speaking to someone in person when managing your money. But even then, if you aren’t sure what you’re doing or need help, many banks provide assistance through an online help facility or through customer services.

Is online banking safe?

Standards of security among the banks have improved greatly since online banking started and they take a lot of precautions to avoid fraud.

These precautions include customers setting up passwords and several security questions, using encrypted websites and two-factor authentication, and automatically logging accounts out after a specific time period.

However, if any money is deducted from your account without your permission, your bank will, in most cases, cover your losses, so long as you have acted responsibly.

Your bank should also provide information on how to protect yourself against fraud. This information might include only using secure Wi-Fi connections, checking your account regularly to spot unusual activity and never replying to or opening links in emails purportedly from your bank that ask for personal details.

If you are the victim of fraud, you need to contact your bank immediately — if you are quick it may be able to stop the transaction. If you do lose money, your bank should reimburse you, unless it can show that you didn’t take necessary precautions to keep your account safe.

» MORE: How to protect yourself from online fraud

How do I set up online banking?

Most UK banks and building societies provide online banking. You can check their website to see if yours does, call them or visit a local branch to confirm.

To get an online account you’ll usually need to sign up. The registration process likely will involve a few steps, which might include waiting for a password to be sent to you in the post or visiting the local branch in person. Once you’ve set up online banking, you will then be able to securely log into your account from your chosen device.

If your bank or building society doesn’t provide online banking or offer a good banking app, but you’d like to use one, consider switching to a bank that does.

» MORE: How to switch your current account

About the author:

Rebecca Goodman is a freelance journalist who has spent the past 10 years working across personal finance publications. Regularly writing for The Guardian, The Sun, The Telegraph, and The Independent. Read more

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