Citibank
Citibank

Best traditional bank for online banking

According to one industry survey, Citibank's customers are more satisfied with the service they receive -- especially online -- than are clients of most rival banks. Citibank's website gets high scores from experts who cite the ease with which transactions can be completed. Like all the big banks, it has complicated account requirements and minimums that customers must meet to avoid service charges and to earn favorable rates on their funds. Citibank has more than 30,000 ATMs in the U.S. and 7,000 internationally, and an app is available for iPhone and Android phones. Live phone support is available 24/7.
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Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking
Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking

Best online checking account

The Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account offered by Charles Schwab has no minimum balance and no monthly fees, and it generally offers a higher-than-average interest rate. Fees for withdrawing money at any ATM worldwide are reimbursed, without the limits most banks impose. Online bill payment is free; even the checks are free. Live phone support is available 24/7, and a guarantee protects against loss in case of unauthorized access. Schwab Bank also offers remote deposit options, so you can deposit checks by scanning them with your home computer or by photographing both sides of the check with your smartphone.
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Sallie Mae Bank High-Yield Savings Account
Sallie Mae Bank High-Yield Savings Account

Best online savings account

Reviewers recommend the Sallie Mae Bank High-Yield Savings account for its competitive interest rates, lack of fees and simple requirements. There is no minimum required to open an account, and clients can earn money from Sallie Mae Bank by participating in its Upromise cash-back rewards program. By linking their savings and Upromise accounts, customers can earn a bonus of 10 percent of their Upromise earnings over the course of a calendar year, which can be transferred to a savings account. Clients are only allowed six withdrawals per month without incurring a fee, however, and a funds transfer is the only withdrawal option, so this account should not be used for short-term savings
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SmartyPig
SmartyPig

Online savings for special purchases

Reviews say SmartyPig is best for saving for specific purchases, not for emergency savings. Savings accounts usually earn more than the national average. Your SmartyPig account is funded by a required automatic monthly deposit. You open a separate SmartyPig subaccount for each purchase goal. If you make your purchase at a retail site that partners with SmartyPig, you even get some bonus money. SmartyPig is one of the first online savings plans to integrate social networking -- so family and friends can help you save toward a specific purchase, offering encouragement or even contributions. You retain control over the information you choose to share. This online savings plan is offered in partnership with West Bank, based in Iowa.
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ING Direct
ING Direct

Best Online Bank

Reviewers say that ING Direct, one of the first online-only banks, is also one of the most trusted and user-friendly. ING offers accountholders good rates (though not always the highest), and it doesn't impose any fees or minimum balances for its accounts. Both its Orange Savings account and its Electric Orange Checking account are recommended by reviewers, and the ING website gets high ratings, too. Clients can access their accounts for free on the Allpoint network of ATMs in grocery stores, delis, drugstores and gas stations. ING Direct offers remote deposit options; you can deposit checks from your home computer or mobile device. You can request that the bank send a check to someone for free -- and ING even pays the postage -- or opt for a standard checkbook (*Est. $5 for 50 checks). Note: ING Direct has been acquired by Capital One, and its name will change to Capital One by early 2013.
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Online banking continues to grow

As the analytics firm ComScore points out, online banking and mobile banking have become commonplace in the past few years. Whether you have an account at a traditional bank or at a web-based bank, you can do just about anything online: check your balance, pay bills, transfer funds, even deposit checks by scanning them into your home computer or taking a photo with your smartphone.

Not surprisingly, we found far more reviews of online banks than when we last updated this report in 2010. Most sources focus on either the large, traditional banks or those that operate online only. One exception is BankRate.com, which covers both traditional and online banks, posting interest rates and rating the banks' financial stability. MyBankTracker.com also covers both types of banks, offering not only editorial reviews but also hundreds of detailed customer reviews of the banks.

A few sources cover the big banks only. For example, Keynote Systems Inc. provides detailed rankings of 24 traditional banks, based on objective research and analysis. Rankings of the five biggest banks by ComScore are also useful; the firm analyzes customer satisfaction with the financial institutions themselves and their websites as well. The American Customer Satisfaction Index also ranks the big banks and their online services.

For evaluating Internet banks, we found several reviews at Kiplinger.com and one at PCMag.com. We also found a plethora of news and reviews on blogs, including GetRichSlowly.org, DepositAccounts.com, It's Your Money and others.

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