Top 10 Best Online Banks

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It’s safe to say that the internet has become a part of our daily lives. You can shop, interact with friends and family, look for a significant other, and even earn a college degree all via the internet. One of the online activities that took awhile to catch is online banking.

Some of the first online banks started to pop up around the year 2000. Most were laden with ridiculously high fees, low interest rates, and poor service. Perhaps the biggest stumbling block was that people were used to walking into a traditional bank and conducting their financial transactions in person.

Online security was, and still is, a major concern for people. But research shows that online banking is actually safer because all of the transactions online are encrypted. Many people think that identity theft is perpetrated by some genius super-hacker when in fact the most common way for thieves to get your information is old-fashioned dumpster diving.

Online banking has improved greatly since its inception. Banks and customers finally seem comfortable with it. Statistics show that approximately 75% of homes with internet access bank online. Read on to find out which online banks are rated best.

10. Bank of America

Bank of America is one of the big banks that rates high in online banking and customer satisfaction. Their online banking system is intuitive to most people, even computer novices. One advantage of choosing a large national bank is the huge network of chains and ATM machines.

They offer free online management software called Bank of America My Portfolio that can be accessed from any computer with an internet connection. This feature allows people to bill pay online, order checks, transfer funds between accounts, and sign up for email and text alerts.

All of their transactions are encrypted and they have a zero liability guarantee that provides peace of mind for fraudulent transactions. Unlike other banks they require no minimum balance or special requirements.

Bank of America also has a mobile banking app for mobile devices such as iPhone and iPad. The application is free to use and download and is only 2 MB. People can conduct the same banking functions that are available on the website plus locate branches and ATM machines.

9. Wells Fargo

Here’s another big bank that has cracked the top ten. Wells Fargo is one of the largest financial institutions in the world. They do it all from personal banking, home loans, insurance and more. Wells is #1 in the United States in banking locations and mortgage lending. They have assets totaling $1.3 trillion and nearly 300,000 employees that serve 70 million customers.

Wells Fargo online banking is quite extensive because of its options and tools. Some of the free online tools for customers include their online financial planning tools My Money Map, Budget Watch, and My Spending Report. Wells offers online features such as bill pay, transfers, a mobile banking application and text banking. People can also set up customized text and email alerts to go directly to their phone or computer.

One unique feature is the vSafe online storage where customers can safely back up and store important messages, financial files, and data. Statements can automatically be archived which cuts down on paper waste and record keeping at home. The only drawback is that the service comes with a monthly fee.

Wells offers a 100% guarantee where customers can get all of their money back should unauthorized charges show up on their account.

8. Chase

Chase certainly lives up to their online banking slogan of “More ways to bank whenever, wherever.” Their website is very well organized and clean. Most online banking websites are too full of clutter and can be overwhelming. Their online banking feature includes an on-time guarantee that your bills will be paid when they are due.

Chase has an app that can be downloaded for free on Androids and iPhones. Their texting application is interactive allowing you to text them regarding balance inquiries and due dates and you’ll receive a text back within seconds.

One of the cool mobile banking features is their QuickDeposit that allows you to deposit a check into your account right from your phone. All you have to do is take a picture of the front and back of your signed check and send using the mobile app and it will be deposited into your account. This is a great feature because it allows you to skip the long lines at the drive thru and get money into your account faster.

Chase also has a person-to-person pay system called QuickPay. Chase customers are able to send money to anyone with an email address even if they are not Chase customers. It’s completely safe and no account information is needed by either party to complete the transaction.

7. PNC Bank

You may not have heard of PNC but it has been around since the 1850’s. It was first established as Pittsburgh Trust and Savings. Today it is a Fortune 200 Company that was named “Best Bank” by The Banker Magazine in 2010.

PNC calls their online banking “Virtual Wallet” which is a combination of a checking account, savings account, and a reserve account that keeps money in it in case of overdraft. PNC virtual wallet is free of charge to sign up for and only costs $25 which is deposited into your checking account.

Everyone hates paying those annoying ATM fees and PNC knows it. If you keep at least $2,000 in all of your combined accounts PNC will reimburse 100% of your ATMS fees. They understand how ridiculous it is to have to pay a fee to get access to your own money. This applies to ATM machines outside of their network of 4,000 ATMs.

Their mobile banking app is available for free download on all smart phones. Features include balance review, free bill pay, money transfer, and text/email alerts. You can also send money to people using their email address. PNC virtual wallet is also configured to work seamlessly with Quicken and QuickBooks. Financial records can be imported to Quicken or exported from Quicken to PNC.

6. Citibank

Citibank claims to offer “award-winning online banking” although by whom and when they received the award seems to be a mystery. Nevertheless the financial services company offers some outstanding online banking features. Citi offers the standard online features such as free online bill pay, mobile phone banking, text banking, online statements and check images, transfers and fraud protection.

Citi also does a good job of encouraging people to save their money by offering an online service that allows you to set up a recurring savings plan that automatically transfers money from your checking account into your savings account.

One of the advantages of using a large financial services institution such as Citi is the ability to link all of your accounts using their online banking and mobile apps. Customers can link their checking, savings, home mortgage loan, equity loan, and credit cards with the click of a button. This feature allows people who have Citibank credit cards to link their checking account and pay their bill with a single click. You can also track your rewards points you’ve earned by making credit card purchases.

5. First National Bank of Omaha

FNBO started out as a local bank that served the Omaha, Nebraska community. The first branch opened in 1857. First National has grown into a financial services company with over $17 billion in managed assets and 5,000 employees that serve nearly 7 million customers.

If you’re an online shopper then First National Bank of Omaha is one you’ll want to check out. They have the same features such as free bill pay, money transfers, linking of accounts, and text banking as the big banks, but where they shine are their MyDeals and First Shop programs.

MyDeals allows customers who use their FNBO debit and credit cards to get automatic discounts when they shop online using of the banks partners. The partner list is very extensive and includes large national retailers from all sectors of the economy. The savings show up on your statement and there is no coupon cutting and clipping.

First Shop is a similar program but is run by a third-party provider. Customers who use one of the merchants automatically receive up to 15% off of goods and services. Stores include Home Depot, Old Navy, Barnes and Noble and Office Depot.

4. E-Trade

E-Trade offers online banking services that are simple, effective and forward thinking. E-Trade is known mainly for its equity trading programs but has made a good name for itself in the personal banking world by offering fast service and some of the highest interest-bearing checking and savings accounts in the country.

Their free Quick Transfer program allows customers to move money back and forth from their E-Trade accounts to any other financial institution with just a few clicks. They also reimburse all ATM fees when you use a cash machine outside of their vast network.

3. Ally Bank

Ally Bank is not new to the banking industry as many people think. It started out as GMAC, but renamed itself in 2010. Money Magazine named their online savings account the best in the nation because of its zero minimum balance requirement, 1% APY interest rate, daily compounding of interest for maximum earning, and no fees.

Ally keeps its costs down because they have no physical branches. This is uncomfortable for some people, but if you want a 100% online bank this is a great choice. Your money is still FDIC insured just like the other banks.

Their online checking accounts come with free online banking and free bill pay. You’ll get unlimited check writing and a free debit card. You also will never pay an ATM fee at any ATM machine. The savings they experience because of no overhead are passed down to the customer in the form of higher interest rates.

2. HSBC Direct

HSBC prides itself as being the world’s local bank. What sets them apart is their customer service. They offer the same online banking features that are industry standard but they treat their customers like royalty. You’ll still get free bill pay, encrypted and secure internet banking transactions, and the ability to do the same things online as you would in a branch.

Since HSBC offers a myriad of financial services you can link all of your accounts together into one interface for easy money management and online banking. With their $0 liability guarantee you’ll never have to be responsible for unauthorized purchases.

1. ING Direct

ING has been a pioneer in the online banking industry. They were one of the first companies to do banking completely over the internet and have offered their checking, savings, and money market accounts online for years. They have very loyal customers and have somewhat of a cult following, which is a huge feat for a bank.

They offer higher rates than the competition on their savings and checking accounts. For example, and Electric Orange online checking account earns 1.15% interest. They don’t have traditional branches they have ING Cafes that are actual coffee shops with free internet. They offer free money management seminars and other fun and informative events.

ING has free money management tools and online bill pay, free ATM usage, kid’s savings accounts, person to person payments, and customer service second to none. One of the great aspects of their bank is they charge virtually no fees for an overdraft on an account. While most banks charge $30 for overdrafts ING Direct charges a measly 20 cents.

Their mobile app works for iPhones, iPads, Black Berries and Android phones. The app also lets you find the nearest café and ATM machine. All deposits are FDIC insured up to $100,000. The free app is like having a bank branch in your pocket.

ING Direct continues to be on the cutting edge of online and mobile banking with a flair for doing things different and customer focused.