How to Choose an Online Banking App: Finding the Right Banking Partner

In today’s fast-paced environment, the necessity for a convenient banking experience is more prevalent than ever. More people are looking for a hassle-free solution to fulfilling their banking needs, including the ability to skip long lines at the bank.

This is where online banking comes in. The availability of smartphones and other mobile devices has made it easier for everyone to complete their transactions wherever they are and at any time. With online banking apps, you can now send and receive money, pay bills, and even open an account without leaving the comfort of your home. 

However, the rise in online banking has led to the quest of finding the right partner that can accommodate your unique needs. With more online banking apps being developed almost every day, this task has proven to be more challenging.

As a smart consumer, you need to choose an online banking partner that exceeds your expectations. Gone are the days of settling for slow banking apps that barely fulfill your needs and even put your security at risk. 


Here's what to look for in an online banking app

1. Comprehensive Banking Products

Before considering how to open a bank account online, make sure to assess the bank’s offerings. A great online banking partner should offer a comprehensive suite of products that cater to the diverse financial needs of its customers. These products should go beyond the basic checking and savings accounts, providing a wide array of options to help you manage and grow your money effectively.

When evaluating an online banking app's product offerings, consider not only the variety of accounts available but also the terms and conditions associated with each account. A good bank will have clear and transparent terms, making it easier for you to understand how an online banking app works.

By choosing an online banking partner with comprehensive banking products, you gain the convenience of consolidating your financial activities in one place, making it easier to manage your money efficiently. 

2. Enhanced Security

When learning how to start online banking, you should be aware that you’ll be required to provide your personal details and deposit your money digitally. That is why security is a top priority when exploring how to choose an online banking partner. It directly affects the safety of your personal and financial information. In the digital age, protecting your data from cyber threats and fraud is paramount.

A reliable online banking partner should employ advanced security measures to safeguard your information. One crucial feature to look for is two-factor authentication (2FA) for account access. 

2FA adds an extra layer of protection by requiring you to provide something you know (like a password) and something you have (such as a unique code sent to your mobile device) before gaining access to your account. This makes it significantly harder for unauthorized individuals to breach your account.

Encryption protocols are another crucial aspect of security. Ensure that the online bank uses industry-standard encryption methods to protect your data during transmission. Look for terms like "SSL" (Secure Socket Layer) or "TLS" (Transport Layer Security) in their security documentation.

Regular security audits and updates are also indicators of a bank's commitment to protecting your information. Banks that frequently assess their systems for vulnerabilities and apply necessary patches are better equipped to defend against emerging threats.

Lastly, transparency matters. A trustworthy online banking app will have a clear and easily accessible privacy policy that outlines how your data is collected, stored, and used. Review this policy to ensure you are comfortable with the bank's data handling practices.

3. User-Friendly App Interface

A user-friendly app interface is a key component of an enjoyable online banking experience. It's the digital gateway through which you'll access and manage your accounts, so ease of use is a top consideration.

When evaluating a bank's app or website, look for intuitive navigation and layout. 

The platform should make it easy to perform essential tasks such as checking your account balance, making transfers, paying bills, and reviewing transaction history. The goal is to have a seamless experience where you can quickly find and execute the actions you need without frustration.

Mobile app availability and functionality are essential considerations, especially if you prefer to manage your finances on your smartphone or tablet. Ensure that the app is compatible with your devices and operating systems and that it provides the same features and capabilities as the website.

Customizability is another bonus aspect of a user-friendly interface. A good online banking app will allow you to personalize your dashboard, choosing what information and account details are most important to you. This level of customization makes your banking experience more efficient and tailored to your needs.

Remember, a user-friendly app interface is crucial for a smooth and efficient online banking experience. It ensures that managing your finances is a hassle-free process, allowing you to focus on your financial goals and transactions rather than struggling with a clunky or confusing interface. Choose an online banking partner that prioritizes user experience to simplify your banking journey.

4. Responsive Customer Service

Exceptional customer service is a cornerstone of any successful online banking app. Even though much of your banking may be done digitally, there will be times when you need assistance or have questions. When learning how to choose a new bank, consider their responsiveness and accessibility in terms of customer support.

One critical aspect of responsive customer service is the availability of support during extended hours. Emergencies and unexpected issues can arise at any time, especially when doing online transactions, so it's essential that your bank offers assistance beyond regular business hours. Look for  banks that provide 24/7 customer support through multiple channels, including phone, email, live chat, or an interactive FAQ section.

Responsiveness is another key factor. The bank's ability to address your queries and concerns promptly can greatly impact your overall satisfaction. Research customer reviews and testimonials to get a sense of how well the bank responds to customer needs.

Accessibility of contact options is also significant. A good  banking partner will make it easy for you to get in touch with their support team. Check whether they provide a toll-free phone number, a responsive email address, or a user-friendly live chat feature. The more accessible these options are, the more convenient your banking experience will be when you require assistance.

Ultimately, responsive customer service ensures that you have a support system in place when you need it most. It's a vital aspect of any  bank's commitment to your financial well-being and satisfaction.

5. Unique App Features

While core banking features are essential, unique and innovative app features can set an online banking partner apart from the competition. These additional features can enhance your overall banking experience and provide you with tools to manage your finances more effectively.

One such feature to look for is budgeting and financial tracking tools. Some online banks offer built-in budgeting apps or integration with third-party budgeting platforms. These tools can help you monitor your spending, set financial goals, and stay on track with your budget.

Another valuable feature is investment or wealth management services. If you're interested in growing your wealth, an online bank that provides access to investment options or financial planning resources can be a significant advantage.

Integration with third-party financial apps can also be a game-changer. It allows you to connect your banking data with other financial tools you may use, such as expense trackers or investment platforms, creating a more comprehensive and holistic view of your finances.

Additionally, customizable alerts and notifications can keep you informed about your account activity, helping you stay on top of important transactions and account updates.

When evaluating a bank's unique app features, consider how they align with your financial goals and preferences. These features can add significant value to your banking experience and make managing your money more convenient and efficient. 

6. Excellent Reviews

The experiences of current customers are also part of what to look for in an online banking partner. They are valuable indicators of a bank's quality and reliability. Reading reviews and gathering feedback can provide insights into the bank's performance, customer service, and overall satisfaction of existing clients.

Pay attention to the consistency of positive reviews. While no institution is perfect, a bank with a consistently high level of customer satisfaction is more likely to provide a positive experience for you as well. Conversely, if you come across consistent negative feedback or unresolved issues, it may be a red flag indicating potential problems with the bank's service.

Take note of how the bank responds to customer feedback. A bank that actively addresses customer concerns and seeks to resolve issues demonstrates a commitment to customer satisfaction and continuous improvement.

Online forums, social media, and dedicated review websites can be valuable sources of customer feedback. When choosing an online banking partner, take the time to explore these resources to gain a well-rounded perspective on the bank's performance and reputation.

7. Deposit Insurance

The safety of your deposits should always be a priority when opening an online banking account . While online banking offers convenience, it's essential to ensure that your funds are protected in case the bank faces financial difficulties.

In the Philippines, the institution responsible for providing deposit insurance is the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC). The PDIC is a government-owned and controlled corporation that ensures the stability of the country's banking system by safeguarding depositors' funds.

To evaluate the deposit insurance provided by abank in the Philippines, consider the following:

  • PDIC Membership: Verify that the online bank is a member of the PDIC. Membership in the PDIC is a legal requirement for banks in the Philippines, and it provides protection for depositors' funds up to a certain limit.
  • Coverage Limit: Understand the deposit insurance coverage limit offered by the PDIC. Currently, the PDIC provides insurance coverage of up to Php 500,000 per depositor, per bank. However, this limit may change over time due to regulatory updates, so it's essential to check the most current information.
  • Multiple Accounts: If you have multiple accounts with the same online bank, remember that the PDIC coverage limit applies per depositor, per bank. This means that if you have several accounts with the same bank, the total coverage is still limited to the prescribed amount.
  • Joint Accounts: For joint accounts, each account holder is typically entitled to the coverage limit, effectively doubling the protection for joint account holders.

It's important to note that the PDIC's role is to ensure the stability of the banking system and protect depositors. Having your deposits insured by the PDIC provides peace of mind and financial security, knowing that your money is protected up to the coverage limit, even in challenging economic circumstances.

8. Better Interest Rates

One of the advantages of online banking is the potential for higher interest rates on savings accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs) compared to traditional brick-and-mortar banks. When evaluating online banking apps, pay close attention to the interest rates they offer, as this can significantly impact your ability to grow your savings over time.

To determine if a bank offers competitive interest rates, compare their rates to national averages and those of other banks in the market. Online banks often have lower overhead costs than traditional banks, allowing them to offer more attractive rates. However, interest rates can vary among online banking apps, so it's essential to shop around and find the best rates that align with your financial goals.

Additionally, consider the terms and conditions associated with interest rates. Some banks offer tiered rates, where higher balances earn more interest. Others may offer introductory rates that change after a certain period. Understanding these details will help you make an informed decision.

But it's worth noting that while higher interest rates can boost your savings, they should not be the sole factor in your decision. Ensure that the bank's other features, such as security, customer service, and fees, align with your needs and preferences as well.

9. Low Banking Fees

Banks with online banking apps often pride themselves on offering lower fees compared to traditional brick-and-mortar banks. However, it's essential to have a clear understanding of the fee structure associated with your chosen online bank to ensure that it aligns with your financial habits and needs.

Some common fees to consider include monthly maintenance fees, ATM fees, overdraft charges, and foreign transaction fees.

Monthly maintenance fees are often charged for keeping certain types of accounts open. Look for online banks that offer accounts with minimal or no monthly maintenance fees, especially if you don't require extensive banking services.

ATM fees and reimbursement policies are crucial, especially if you frequently withdraw cash. Many online banking apps have partnerships with ATM networks, offering fee-free access to a vast number of ATMs nationwide. Some may even reimburse you for fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs. 

Overdraft fees and policies are essential to understand, as they can have a significant impact on your finances if you accidentally overdraw your account. Online banking apps may have varying policies regarding overdraft protection, so review these carefully to determine the level of protection and associated fees.

Lastly, foreign transaction fees can add up quickly if you travel internationally or make purchases from foreign merchants. If this applies to you, look for an online banking partner that offers low or no foreign transaction fees to avoid additional costs.

10. Expansive ATM Network

Access to ATMs is essential for convenient cash withdrawals and deposits. While online banks typically offer fee-free access to a vast network of ATMs, the size and coverage of the ATM network can vary between institutions. Evaluate the bank's ATM network to ensure it provides easy access to cash when you need it.

An expansive ATM network offers several advantages:

  • Convenience: Having ATMs readily available means you won't have to travel far to withdraw cash or make deposits.
  • Reduced Fees: Many online banks reimburse fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs, further reducing the cost of accessing your money. 
  • Accessibility: An extensive ATM network ensures that you can find a nearby ATM, whether you're in your hometown or traveling.


To assess the ATM network:

  • Inquire about the size and coverage of the bank's ATM network. Some online banks partner with nationwide ATM networks to provide extensive access.
  • Understand the bank's ATM fee reimbursement policies. Some banks refund fees automatically, while others may require you to submit receipts for reimbursement.
  • Check if the bank provides a mobile app with an ATM locator feature, making it easy to find nearby ATMs when you're on the go.


Choose an All-in-One Online Banking Partner

Knowing what to look for in an online banking partner sets you on the right path to finding the best financial companion  that meets your needs and expectations. One reliable bank in the Philippines that offers an exceptional online banking app and that you can trust with your money and financial goals is RCBC.

RCBC offers an online banking app, RCBC Pulz, that lets you complete your transactions whenever and wherever you are. 

Developed to address your evolving banking needs, this app offers everything you’re looking for in an online bank. From enhanced security to a variety of banking products, RCBC Pulz is the online banking partner for a wise consumer and go-getter like you!