Once upon a time, banks were a place into which you would physically walk and fill out a deposit slip every time you were paid. When you needed money, you would drag yourself to the bank and withdraw cash. There were no banking apps, and you couldn’t log in to check your balance or transfer money digitally.
Banks offered a few other services, such as lending money to customers, but they were relatively minimal — especially before World War II. The first credit card wasn’t introduced until the 1950s. And before modern computers, calculations were done with a pencil and paper, meaning many more resources toward the things that computers can now do much more cheaply.
Today, modern technology has greatly reduced costs and competition has driven banks to constantly one-up each other. Plus, with more technology, banks can simply do a whole lot more than they once could. Here, we’ll take a look at a few of the features modern banks offer that can make your life easier.
Automatic Bill Payments
Automatic bill payments are a feature that we can almost take for granted at this point, but when you consider the alternative, it’s quite the luxury to have this option. With this feature, you either let your bank know you want a bill paid every month. Alternatively, you can link your debit or credit card to your account with your service provider, and they will automatically withdraw (or charge) the amount when the time comes.
Round Up Your Purchases
Purchase round-ups are a nice feature that several banks and fintechs have adopted over the years. If enabled, this feature will round up all of your purchases to the nearest whole dollar amount and deposit the remainder into either a savings or investment account. Some institutions will even let you round up to the nearest $5, $10 or a custom dollar amount.
Holly O’Neill, president of retail banking at Bank of America, highlighted a round-up service there. “Bank of America’s Keep the Change® program makes saving automatic by rounding consumers’ spending up to the nearest dollar for every purchase they make with a Bank of America debit card and transferring the difference into a savings account,” O’Neill said.
Banking customers often struggle with waiting for money to be transferred to a service provider or third-party account. Typically, transfers take one to three business days, and that can oftentimes be a problem. But some banks are now making it possible to transfer money instantly, so you don’t have to wait days for your money to move over.
Get Paid Early
We all know the struggle of having to wait another week or two for your paycheck to be deposited into your account. Banks know the struggle, too, and that’s why some banks and fintechs will let you get paid early. For example, fintechs like Dave will let you get paid up to two days early. Sometimes you just need your money sooner, and now it’s possible to make that happen.
AI To Monitor Your Finances
Sometimes there can be an unexpected change in one of your subscriptions or, worse still, you could be the victim of bank fraud. But we are all busy and we don’t always have time to monitor everything all the time. That’s why some banks have AI-driven tools to monitor your finances for you.
“For example, Bank of America’s AI-driven virtual financial assistant, Erica, is designed to provide clients with personalized, proactive financial guidance and can help monitor spending and subscriptions so you don’t have to spend time digging through credit card bills and statements,” O’Neill said. “Erica automatically notifies clients to upcoming recurring charges as well as when those charges or membership fees increase unexpectedly, giving an up-to-date view of how many subscriptions you are currently paying for and what those subscriptions cost, enabling you to take action if needed.”
Get Rewards for Being a Customer
Banking competition is fierce these days, and that means banks want to give people more reasons to stay with them. As a result, many banks now offer rewards simply for being a customer. “For example, Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards no-fee loyalty program rewards clients for their entire relationship with the bank,” O’Neill said.
“Members enjoy exclusive benefits, all designed around the ways they save, spend, and borrow – including a credit card rewards bonus, no fees on select banking services, savings account interest rate boosters and discounts on various lending products.”
Calculators and Tools
Although there is a lot we can automate these days, it can sometimes be nice to have the option of working things out yourself. And chances are, your bank has calculators and other tools you can use for budgeting, building credit and more.
Thomas Racca, manager on the personal finance management team at Navy Federal Credit Union, highlighted some tools his organization offers. For instance, there is a monthly spending calculator to help you track monthly spending, a monthly budgeting worksheet, and a credit confidence dashboard. The credit confidence dashboard shows customers their credit score and steps they can take to improve it.
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