You can transfer money or check on your bank balance all from your computer, once you get started with online banking. You can even bank directly from your smartphone or tablet, too.
There are some security elements to be aware of and best practice to follow, but don't feel put off - online banking can be accessible, easy and safe. Follow our guide to get started with online banking.
Five tips for safe online banking
- Banks will never email you asking for your login details or password. Never respond to such emails, as they could be from scammers.
- Don't share your login details with anyone else, or write them down and leave them somewhere obvious, including in your wallet or purse.
- If you bank on your phone or tablet, make sure to keep the device locked by a passcode as an added measure of security.
- Don't transfer money to accounts belonging to people you don't know or trust, including online traders selling on eBay or Amazon Marketplace. Use those sites' own payment systems instead.
- Always check the account number and sort code on the account you're transferring money to. The onus is on you, the customer, to ensure these details are correct.
I’ve never banked online before – how do I get started?
Banks actively want their customers to bank online and generally aim to make the process of getting started straightforward. You can either begin in the local branch of your bank, explaining to the staff what you’d like to do, or head to your bank’s website and click Register or Get Started under the internet banking section.
In both cases, you’ll need to supply some details, including your account or card number. You’ll also need to confirm your date of birth, full name and address.
Can I start banking online immediately?
For first-time customers of online banking, there’s typically a short wait. You may be posted some confirmation details to your home address. This letter will contain the information you need to log in for the first time. It’s safer this way, ensuring that only genuine customers get to log in to their own bank accounts.
How do I log in to my online bank account?
The welcome letter you receive should explain everything you need to know. Generally, most online banks use a combination of security steps to log you in safely to your account. Some banks will send you a card reader (it looks a bit like a calculator).
You put your bank card into this and follow instructions on screen to receive a secure code. It’s likely you’ll be sent a unique online banking password or passcode by your bank, as well.
What can I do with online banking?
Online banking lets you check your bank balance, transfer money between your own accounts and send money to other people instantly. There are security measures in place for all of this. For instance, if you tried to send money to someone’s account and you’d never done so before, the bank would ask you to confirm some security details. Some banks will text a security code to your mobile phone, for example.
Can I bank on a tablet or smartphone?
All the main banks have apps you can install for free to a tablet or smartphone. They sometimes have additional security measures, such as fingerprint ID, if your phone supports it.
You can check your balances and transfer funds via these apps with ease. You may find there are some additional security steps needed if you wish to transfer money to an account you've never transferred to before. For instance, you may need to go through the card reader process, explained above.
Do I need to be careful when banking online?
Some basic precautions will ensure you are banking online safely. Never share your online banking login details or passwords, and never keep them written down or stored somewhere obvious for others to find. When visiting your bank’s website, double-check that it’s the official one.
Remember above all, banks will never email you asking you to supply your account details or to update them by logging in. This is a classic ruse used by scammers.
When buying online from a direct seller (for instance, an individual selling via eBay or Amazon Marketplace), don't pay directly via online banking if asked to do so. It's safer to use eBay or Amazon's own payment systems, as these give you security over the money in case you need to push for a refund.