COVID-19 has drawn attention to the importance of online access—for work, shopping, entertainment and more. Online banking services are no exception.

“With COVID-19, we’ve seen a real uptick in people doing online banking, even among our traditional members,” says Chris Plescia, senior vice president and head of operations for Auto Club Trust, FSB.

Here, Plescia offers insights about what to look for in a modern online banking platform.

All transactions between your device and the bank need to be encrypted and secure. Make sure the site address begins with “https.” If there’s no “s” at the end of “http,” the site isn’t secure. In addition, multifactor security—like a one-time login code sent to your smartphone—helps ensure that you are the only person who can access your information. “You should have all of the security that you get in a brick-and-mortar bank branch, but it’s done through your phone or computer,” Plescia says.

Quick and easy access to account information is essential, as well as the ability to drill down into individual transactions. You should also be able to pay bills to third parties, conduct wire transfers, transfer funds between accounts and deposit checks. Some online banks even allow you to obtain cash through local surcharge-free ATMs.

Credit and debit cards should be monitored proactively by the bank for potential fraud. That way, if something unusual happens, you should receive notifications and the bank can quickly lock the card to prevent a fraudulent transaction from going through. Or, if you lose your credit or debit card, you can use your phone to immediately lock the card.

From daily monitoring of your credit report to surveillance of your family’s personal information, ProtectMyID offers AAA Members three levels of coverage.

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“When I think about a digital bank, that’s where you as a customer are able to bank wherever you are, the way you want,” Plescia says. Unlike with a purely physical bank, you should be able to conduct online banking services over your phone, tablet or computer—from home, work, vacation, almost anywhere and at any time. Online forms and statements should also be available at any time.

A modern banking platform allows you to receive alerts based on criteria that you set up—for example, deposits or withdrawals over a certain dollar amount and credit or debit card transactions. You can also set up your account so you receive alerts when your monthly statements are available online.

Person-to-person payments allow you to transfer money through your device directly to another person. It’s as easy as sending a text to another phone. Applications like Zelle work with online banks to offer this capability.

Don’t forget the basics. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation protects you against the loss of your insured deposits if an FDIC-insured bank or savings association fails. FDIC insurance is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.

Big changes are coming to AAA’s online banking services in early 2021. “Our vision is to create a member-driven digital bank that helps our members save, borrow, pay and protect along life’s journey,” Plescia says.

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