5 smart ways to bank with your smartphone

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The vast majority of Americans own smartphones. There’s no wonder then that mobile banking is popular as well. That popularity means you have a lot of mobile banking options to choose from and each app may offer different experiences.

Here are a few of the must-have features to seek out:

1. Deposit checks

Having the ability to deposit checks remotely can be a hassle-saver whether you still receive physical checks on a regular basis or only infrequently. With mobile check deposit, you can deposit paper checks by simply uploading an image of the check from your smartphone. Most banks offer this functionality.

This may seem simple but it provides two major benefits. One, you can deposit checks without having to make a trip to a bank. It doesn’t matter where you are. Two, you don’t have to worry about whether the lobby is open. You can deposit checks remotely regardless of the time.

2. Turn your debit card on and off

An excellent safety feature to watch out for is the ability to turn your debit card on and off from your mobile banking app. This feature makes it much easier to prevent someone from cleaning out your account if your debit card is stolen. You don’t have to call the bank, wait on hold, and then get the right person on the phone. Just open the app and turn it off.

If you’ve simply lost your card, you can turn it off as a safety precaution. Then when you locate your lost card, you can just turn it back on from the mobile app. That can be a big stress reliever even if your card isn’t actually in someone else’s hands.

3. Find no-fee ATMs

ATM fees can add up, particularly if you make frequent withdrawals. A no-fee ATM locator can help you avoid that by telling you where the nearest no-fee ATMS are. With some institution’s mobile apps, like Diamond Credit Union and Chase, you can use your phone’s GPS to share your location with your bank to find the nearest no-fee ATMs on a map.

4. Mobile payments

Mobile payments allow you to access your account through an app to make payments from your mobile phone. There are a number of options, including: Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and Venmo.

With mobile payments, you don’t have to type your PIN into a keypad or exchange cash or physical cards. Since they are are contactless, they are more hygienic.

In addition to convenience and cleanliness, mobile payments can also provide an extra layer of security by requiring you to scan your fingerprint or face to authorize transactions.

5. Real-time alerts

Real-time alerts can be an incredibly helpful way to keep tabs on your account to better manage your money and monitor security.

“A mobile banking app that supports real-time alerts for authorized and declined transactions can help you quickly identify when your account is in use.” says Nermeen Ghneim, a regional bank manager and owner of personal finance blog Savvy Dollar.

Alerts can also notify you when your account has reached a predetermined balance, giving you ample time to add more money to your account or put your spending on pause to avoid overdrawing.

Bottom line

Mobile banking provides significant convenience, but not all institutions provide the same mobile services. If a particular mobile banking feature or set of features is important to you, check around and find an institution that provides the mobile banking benefits that fit your needs.

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