There's a very good reason to use an Internet-only bank for your interest-bearing accounts. Because they don't have those bricks-and-mortar bank buildings to maintain, they're able to give you higher yields on your savings and lower fees, according to Bankrate.
Considered the best online bank for 2015 by GoBankingRates, Ally Bank offers services found at traditional banks, but has certain advantages over some online competitors. If you withdraw cash from an ATM, you shouldn't pay a user fee with Ally. If you are charged such a fee from a bank ATM, Ally will reimburse you. There's no minimum to open an account and no monthly maintenance fees. It also offers no-fee, interest-earning checking accounts. Other features include:
- Standard checks
- Postage paid deposit envelopes
- MasterCard debit
Discover Online Banking
Yes, that Discover card in your wallet is related to Discover online banking. While the Discover card savings account requires a higher minimum deposit than the online branches of prominent banks -- $500 as of the time of publication -- there's no minimum required to waive a monthly maintenance fee. Discover offers 60,000 free ATMS throughout the country. You can deposit checks via its mobile app, as well as transferring funds between your accounts. GoBankingRates rates Discover number three among online banks.
First Internet Bank of Indiana
First Internet Bank of Indiana really was one of the first online-only banks, starting out in 1999. It offers free checking accounts, and interest-bearing checking accounts if you keep a minimum balance of $500. The independent ratings agency Bauer Financial gives First Internet its highest, five star rating. Unlike some Internet-only banks, you can obtain a mortgage through FIBI. If you own a business, it offers commercial banking services. These include:
- Lines of credit
- Commercial credit cards
- Commercial real estate loans
- Equipment loans
- U.S. Small Business Association loans.
Sallie Mae online banking includes the usual Internet-only attractions, such as higher rates and free checking, but specializes in providing student loans. These include not only undergraduate and graduate school loans, but a loan program called "K-12 Family Education Loan," which provides private school tuition monies. Bankrate.com gives Sallie Mae five stars, stating its "superior financial condition."
Simple really does want to make banking simpler for customers. Its "safe to spend" feature doesn't just give your the amount of money available in your account, but takes into consideration upcoming automatic bill payments and savings goals you've added into the program. You can allocate a certain amount for a specific purpose -- such as monthly restaurant funds -- and the amount is deducted as your use your card at these venues. Business Insider describes using Simple in these terms: "Imagine if all your banking complaints and inconveniences disappeared and everything just worked."
There is a downside to the convenience of Internet-only banks or any type of online banking. Your accounts are vulnerable to hackers and scammers. Watch out for those "phishing" emails purportedly from your bank. A legitimate email from the bank doesn't ask for your password or other personal information. Always install antivirus software on your computer.