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Should You Open a Free Online Checking Account?

In this digital age, many services, including banking, that used to only be housed in brick and mortar buildings are now being offered online for our convenience. With this convenience comes some advantages and disadvantages, so before you open your first free checking account online, make sure this is truly the best option for you.

Advantages of Free Online Checking Accounts

  • Convenient: Unlike physical banks that close at 5 pm sharp, online banks are available to you 24/7. If you need to transfer money from your savings to your checking account, you can do that at any time. If you’re at the doctor’s office and you forgot your credit card bill is due today, you can pay it from your smartphone. Never again will you be stuck waiting for the bank to open so you can access your own money.
  • Flexible: Many online checking accounts are more flexible than their traditional counterparts. For example, Ally Bank offers a free online checking account that does not have a minimum balance and does not charge any monthly fees. Online banks, in general, tend to have fewer fees because they have fewer overhead costs to keep the bank up and running. 
  • Fewer Restrictions: Because your checking account is completely online, you may be wondering how you can withdraw money from it. Many online banks have made it so that you can withdraw money from virtually any ATM for free to make it even more convenient for you to access your funds if you need them. 

Disadvantages of Free Online Checking Accounts

  • Customer Service: One downside you could face if you open a checking account online is that you do not have the option of speaking with someone face to face if you encounter a problem. You will have to rely on emails and phone calls to resolve your issues, which can become incredibly frustrating if you encounter any less-than-helpful customer service reps. 
  • Security: Online banks do have very good security on their end, but hackers can still potentially hack into your bank account if you yourself aren’t careful about choosing a good password and keeping that password safe. Nothing will ever be as safe as physically going to the bank yourself, but as long as you take precautions to keep your money secure, you should be fine. 
  • Transaction Issues: You may be asking yourself, “What do I do if I need to deposit cash in my account?” or “How do I transfer money internationally?” Free online checking accounts are made to be simple, so many of them do not offer a lot of the services that you would receive with a traditional checking account. If features like these are important to you, you should probably try to find a physical bank that has a free online checking account option as well.