Online financial services
Online financial services can seem confusing to navigate at first, but they can provide unique benefits for those willing to learn a new way of banking and money management. This article outlines the advantages of online financial services and offers some tips.
Making the switch to online financial services
Many people over 65 are not entirely comfortable performing any financial transactions online. Having not grown up familiar with the internet, it can be confusing to navigate, and especially fraught when money is involved. They may have a personal or professional relationship with their financial service providers, and trust their bank tellers and advisors. Still, making the transition to online financial services can make life easier in many different ways.
With online financial services, there is a record of all transactions; this is especially helpful in cases of cognitive decline when keeping track of transactions is challenging. Whether paying bills online, depositing checks, or monitoring investments, the freedom of online banking for aging people can be especially appealing, granting them independence from relying on others for transportation to conduct these errands.
Each state may have different regulations regarding financial transactions and who has access to online accounts. Setting up a durable financial power of attorney can help ensure caregivers have access to the platforms they need to access in order to help their loved ones stay on track with finances.1
For most banks, moving banking services online is as simple as clicking a few links on the bank’s website to start an online profile. If you are unable to help the person being cared for complete the online setup, a personal banker at the bank’s branch office can assist. Some advantages to moving banking services online include:
- Ability to check balances instantly, from home
- Ability to transfer between accounts
- Automatic bill payments
- Credit score monitoring
- Fraud alerts
- Special offers on purchases
- Special rates on savings accounts, CDs, and other financial products
- Check re-ordering
- Fewer or no fees for online accounts
Online utility payments
The convenience of online bill and utility payments cannot be overstated. Being able to track and pay bills anytime means more independence for people who rely on others for transportation. It can also be a boon to caregivers to know that bills like cable, internet, electricity, and heating are automatically debited every month, so there’s less chance of interruption of services in case of a forgotten month or more. And if winter heating or summer air conditioning costs are a significant expense, many utility companies offer online budgeting tools and monthly payments to help spread those larger bills out in equal payments.
Online mortgages, credit cards, and car payments
A missed mortgage or car payment can trigger serious penalties for some borrowers, including giant hikes in interest rates, service fees, or a derogatory mark on the borrower’s credit rating. By automating these payments, or even just setting reminders to pay them online monthly, borrowers and their loved ones can rest easier knowing there’s less chance they’ll be skipped or forgotten. In addition, online credit card management offers the chance to compare interest rates on current credit accounts—an easier way to find out if there’s a lower-interest option out there.
Online investment services
Online investing can be a challenge for those who aren’t well-versed in internet financial services in general. Sometimes the first pages that appear on a Google search aren’t the best options, and might even be unsafe. Older people are especially vulnerable to online financial scams and fraud, so any investment activity online should be done through a licensed, trusted financial advisor that the person has talked to in person or on the phone several times. Financial experts recommend that anyone who plans to invest online should do their homework and ask a lot of questions before trusting financial investments online.
That said, many people have a long-standing relationship with their financial and investment advisor and would relish the chance to have a closer look at their money’s performance. Many investing firms offer online monitoring access, so their clients can see how their investments are responding to changes in the stock market or economy. A financial advisor can set up an online account to check up on investments and follow their performance. This can include the ability to make changes to the funds online, but it doesn’t need to. A “read-only” login is an option for some accounts, allowing certain people the ability to view the account but not conduct transactions.
Durable power of attorney
Getting help from a financial expert
Overview of elder fraud
Overview of financial services
Preventing elder fraud
External supporting content
1How to Set Up Power of Attorney for Bank Accounts. Banktracker.