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Most traditional bank accounts in the UK today offer some form of free online or mobile banking that can be accessed using your computer, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. Digital banking lets you access almost every banking function at any time, from any place – even outside your your bank branch’s normal opening hours or if you’re travelling abroad.

How do you apply for digital banking?

Whether you are switching to a new account or remaining with your current bank, applying for online banking is easy: just ask! In branch, over the telephone, or online, whichever is your preference.

Your bank will send you everything you need to get started with digital banking, including your login details. Once you have received everything (there’ll usually be a few separate letters), simply grab your computing device of choice and follow the instructions.

What can you do with digital banking?

Digital banking allows you to access your account details via the bank’s website or mobile app. The layout and functionality of digital banking differs depending on the bank you choose, as does its user-friendliness: some apps and websites are much better than others.

Here’s a list of some of the typical (and free) things you can access via online or mobile app banking:

  • Check the balance on your accounts, including any savings accounts, joint accounts, children’s accounts, or credit cards you have with the same bank
  • Check transactions both in and out of your account
  • Check and download statements to your device
  • Send payments to individuals or pay a bill
  • Move money between your own accounts
  • Set up, amend or cancel direct debits or standing orders
  • Access and activate any relevant offers with your account, such as cashback or discount offers
  • Send and receive secure messages to and from your bank or building society
  • Set up email or text alerts – for payments due or when you are near your overdraft, for example
  • Inform your bank that you are going abroad – so that they can activate your card(s) if applicable
  • Contact your bank regarding any problems with your account
  • Change your personal or security details
  • Upgrade your bank account
  • Apply for other banking products, such as overdrafts, savings accounts, credit cards, insurance, etc.
  • Locate nearby cash machines and branches

What are the benefits of banking digitally?

If you have managed your banking in-branch for years, or just don’t fancy the idea of conducting your financial transactions on a computer or mobile phone, it is easy to overlook the benefits of online banking – of which there are myriad:

  • Your account information, and all the associated functionality, is always available, not just within banking hours – including access to old statements
  • No queuing at busy times in your bank/building society
  • You can access your banking information at any time from abroad
  • You can see immediately if any fraudulent activity has occurred on your account, rather than having to wait for a monthly statement, and can inform your bank immediately
  • You can avoid any potential overdraft fees by spotting unexpected payments and tracking your available balance in almost-real-time

How do I make the most of digital banking?

As well as the benefits of online banking, there are a few things to bear in mind when using online or mobile banking:

  • Choose a strong password for your online banking that cannot easily be guessed. Stay away from using any part of your name or your date of birth, and don’t reveal your username or password to anyone. Your bank will never ask you for your complete username or password, though they will ask you for fragments of them.
  • You should never use a public computer to access your online banking. If a public computer is your only option, make sure you log out from your internet banking, and if possible clear your cookies and browser history.
  • You should never log in to your internet banking via your email inbox, even if the email claims to come from your bank, as it may be fraudulent. Always type the address directly into your web browser.
  • Once online, ensure that the bank pages you are visiting are secure. One easy way to check is to look for a closed padlock to the left of the web address, and to ensure that the web address begins ‘https’, which indicates a secure connection.
  • Always ensure that you install the latest operating system and app updates on your computer or mobile device.

Finally, to ease any concerns you may have, most banks offer some form of guarantee against financial losses caused by online fraud. So long as you have done your very best to guard against it (don’t reveal your username or password to anyone else and inform your bank the minute you realise something is amiss), your bank will refund you in full.

Now read our guide on choosing the right current account