It seems like so long ago that you had to actually go into your bank to do almost anything. If you had a check to deposit, you’d go inside or slip it in one of those tubes in the bank’s drive-through.
Of course, you probably know how the story goes, because it went this way for quite a few industries – the internet came along and changed everything. Now, you can transfer money, view account balances, and deposit checks with a few clicks (or taps, if you’re using a smartphone). If you’ve gone entirely digital with your banking, you’re not alone, as 20 percent of bank customers now use only digital services.
Interested in learning how the entire financial industry has been making the transition to online services? Here’s how different types of financial institutions have gone digital:
Most banks, whether they’re entirely online or if they have physical locations, provide a complete online experience. Customers can manage their entire accounts without needing to visit a branch. You don’t even need to go in to open an account, as banks now allow you to fill out an online account application and upload photocopies of any necessary documents and identification.
As online bill payments have become far more common, banks began offering their own online bill payment services. You simply link your bank account with your bill accounts, and the bank automatically pays those bills by debiting your account every month. Of course, it’s important that you manage your money properly whenever you choose automatic payments, otherwise you can end up with overdraft fees.
Banks also offer mobile apps for account management on your smartphone. While apps usually don’t have all the features you get when you go to the bank’s website, they’re convenient and many of them have all the same account management options that you’d get online or in a branch.
2. Online Stock Brokers
The days of calling in your stock picks are over. Now, all you have to do is log into your online broker and make your investment.
There are a wide range of online brokers available, each with their own trade commission’s, account minimums, and special offers (to entice new investors, online brokers often give you cash or a certain number of days with commission-free trades when you deposit a minimum amount). Many online brokers also include useful information about investing, along with research reports and stock analysis software, to help you make better trades.
While most online brokers require you to have a minimum amount of money in your account at all times, this isn’t always the case, and some let you bypass that minimum with monthly direct deposits. The required minimums also depend on the type of trading you want to do. Futures trading, for example, requires more money in your account to cover any potential losses.
3. Title Loan Companies
Those in need of a short-term car title loan can now start the process online by going to the title loan company’s website. Fully online title loans aren’t an option at this point and probably never will be, because part of the title loan process is the borrower giving the lender their car title. The lender also has to do a quick vehicle inspection to make sure the vehicle is in good condition.
However, you are able to get your title loan approval online before you go into the title loan store. The standard process involves filling out a short application form on the company’s website. The required information varies depending on the lender, but standard application information includes your full name, phone number, email address, zip code, and confirmation that your card is paid in full, since you can’t get a title loan if you haven’t paid your car off yet.
Once you submit the form, you’ll receive notification if you’ve been approved or not. As long as your car is paid off and has trade-in value, you should be approved, at which point the site will provide you with a list of nearby locations where you can go drop off your car title and obtain your loan. Despite how easy the process is, make sure that you’re able to pay off the loan in the designated time period so you don’t end up on the hook for high fees and interest charges.
Handling your financial transactions online is by far the most convenient option. Financial institutions are embracing the digital age, and it’s wise for consumers to do the same.