Tips for Efficient and Secure Online Banking

Online banking is pretty much a must these days if you want to keep things convenient and avoid some of the most common problems associated with banking in general. And yet, as great and convenient as it may be, it’s not without its fair share of problems. Security is the most notable one. If you’re not careful, you could easily have your accounts compromised, and expose your complete financial activities to unknown third parties.

In most cases, cutting down on that risk boils down to common sense and nothing else. You have to be aware of the potential problems that can come up along the way, and be ready to deal with them as they arise. And you must stay informed about recent developments in the field of security to the best of your abilities.

Use 2-Factor Authentication

2-factor authentication is a popular security solution these days, and it alone can boost the security of your account significantly. The basic idea is that you need to log in through an additional point on top of your username/password combination every time you want to access your online banking. For example, you might receive a code on your phone. Some banks even issue special hardware tokens that generate the necessary codes.

In any case, 2FA is a big step up from regular security practices, as it requires hackers to gain physical access to a secondary device on top of hacking your account, which is often infeasible.

Use Your Smartphone

Online banking doesn’t have to happen on your computer only. In fact, many banks can offer you comprehensive mobile solutions that complement their website products, and it’s not a bad idea to take a look at those and see what’s available. A single app can sometimes simplify so much in your life when it comes to finances, and you’ll be left wondering how you could have lived without that before.

Only trust the official sources though! Never download any third-party apps that require access to your financial accounts, because you never know where your information might be getting sent when using them. This is a common security risk in the industry at the moment.

Don’t Panic When You Get an Alert

Sometimes, people end up in a state of panic as soon as their online banking alerts them that something might be wrong. Don’t fall for that trap though. You need to remain calm and approach the situation with a collected state of mind. Chances are, it’s nothing to worry about in the first place. It’s possible that it’s simply a routine alert that many people receive regularly.

However, if it does seem like someone is trying to break into your accounts, take action immediately. Call your bank and notify them of the situation. They might already be aware that something is wrong if the alert came from your online banking in the first place. If the bank contacts you first, don’t give out any information about your account that they should already have. This is a common trick used by some attackers.

Tracking Multiple Accounts from One Place

Having multiple banking accounts is sometimes inevitable. At the same time, it can be a huge nightmare to deal with if they’re all over the place and you have to keep logging in to them from multiple different sources. There are some solutions that can consolidate all of that in one centralised place, and it’s a good idea to take a look at them if you’re feeling confused by all the different points that you have to keep track of.

However, make sure that this is an app approved by your bank(s), and not a random third-party product. The reason is exactly what we described earlier – someone might be able to compromise your accounts by using the information they’ve extracted from poorly secured apps in those cases.

Use a Separate Browser/Device

This might sound a bit extreme, but if you’re really conscious about your online banking security, it might not be a bad idea to use a separate browser for accessing these sites specifically. Some people even use a completely separate computer for that purpose, although this is admittedly a bit overkill. In any case, this minimises the risk of any “cross contamination” from things like the sites you regularly visit, extensions you’re using, and more. It’s not a guarantee that you will not get compromised, don’t treat it like that – but it can go a long way towards adding one extra layer of security to your overall situation.

Is More Than One Credit Card Really Necessary?

Nowadays, it’s not rare to hear about people with multiple credit cards. Not just two, but three or even more. And while that might sound crazy, it does make sense in certain situations. However, it’s not for everyone, and it’s something you should never approach lightly if you’re planning to go down that road. Taking out multiple credit cards can have various implications on your finances, and it’s important to be careful about it.

That said, it can also be a useful approach if you know what you’re doing. It can give you access to various special deals and promotions that are not normally available to regular customers. In some cases, some discounts alone can completely justify all the fees and interest you’re paying on those credit cards.

The Average Case

For most people, a single credit card can do just fine. As long as the limit is high enough to cover most monthly expenses, the card can easily be used as an everyday payment tool. And if the person is careful enough to pay off what they owe on that card as soon as the bill comes in, then there’s no problem in the long run.

Some people decide that their limits are not enough on a single card, or take out a second one to help paying off the debt they’ve accumulated on their original card. But that’s a slippery slope, and not a path you want to go down. Especially if you’re not familiar with using a credit card in the first place.

Benefits of Multiple Cards

Having several credit cards at once can be useful when it comes to certain special promotions, as we mentioned above. Some cards might give you accumulating bonuses if you spend them in certain places, which is a major reason for many people to take out new cards in general. However, you have to be careful in those cases to ensure that you will actually be able to take advantage of those programs properly.

In other words, how often do you actually shop at the participating stores? You might think that you’ll be going there often enough to justify taking out a second credit card, but in some cases that could be far from the truth. You need to be careful with this, because otherwise you’ll be stuck with a card that you’re not using for anything.

Credit Score Impact

And that brings us to another important point. You need to learn how a credit card impacts your credit score, and what happens when you take out multiple ones at the same time. Some people underestimate the impact of this on their own finances, only to end up disappointed in the future once they realize how much they’ve ruined their scores.

Sometimes even closing a card can have a negative impact, so plan ahead and know what to expect in the future! You don’t want to put yourself in a compromising situation where you can’t even close your current lines of credit without jeopardizing your score even more. And yet, that’s exactly what many people end up doing without even realizing it until it’s too late.

Active Utilisation

A credit card is only good if you’re actively using it, as we pointed out above. If you can’t see yourself doing that on a regular basis, it’s probably not a good idea to take out that card in the first place. On the other hand, you also shouldn’t push yourself into using the card too much without paying attention to its limits and your own finances. This can lead to a whole new range of problems on its own, and you may eventually find yourself stuck paying off large amounts of debt without any viable way out of the situation.

Taking out a loan can help you in those cases, but it’s not a universal solution. And it’s certainly not something you should rely on when it comes to paying off a credit card in the first place! Plan ahead, understand your financial situation, and know what your reasonable limits are. Otherwise you’re going to be in a lot of trouble later down the road.

In the end, having multiple credit cards is not bad by itself. But it’s also not something you should treat lightly, and you should pay special attention to all the negative implications it might have on your finances. If you’re prepared to deal with all of that, then by all means, open up another line of credit and start building up those bonuses!