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5 Reasons To Consider An Online Bank

The eCheck Deposit system from Ally Bank, for example, allows you to photograph or scan your checks with a smartphone and deposit them via Ally's app or website. While paper checks are becoming more of a rarity today, online banks are still doing more to attract customers who prefer them.

4. Most have extensive ATM networks

Many major online banks have partnered with national ATM networks to offer widespread, fee-free access for customers. Discover Bank, for instance, offers account access through an ATM network of more than 675,000 machines in 75 nations, and many other online banks offer their own extensive networks to provide customers easy access to cash.

Like traditional banks, using your online bank account for non-network ATM transactions may result in a fee. But according to the latest MoneyRates.com fee survey, online banks charge a lower amount than traditional banks for this privilege.

5. Your branch may be on the chopping block anyway

It's no secret that the neighborhood bank branch is falling out of favor. With even traditional banks embracing the convenience of online banking, fewer customers are finding it necessary to visit their local branch. And because these locations are costly to banks, expect to see more of them closing in the near future.

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan reportedly said on a 2012 conference call that the company intends to shed 750 of its branches in the years ahead. As more banks follow suit, it's possible your neighborhood branch will disappear too, leaving you reliant on distant branches or your bank's online services. If that prospect sounds unappealing, making the jump now to a dedicated online bank may make sense.

If your bank's branches are a major perk for you, you may not be ready for an online bank yet. But if you, like many customers, find yourself going longer and longer between branch visits -- or you're just tired of low rates and high fees -- online banks may offer an enticing alternative.

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