Possibly the best way to handle your personal finances in the Internet age. A good online bank will offer you better-than-average interest rates, plus the convenience of being able to access your accounts online 24/7. The really great ones give you an ATM card and reimburse you for those annoying out-of-network fees everybody's levying these days.

I do my online banking through E*Trade Bank, and so far I'm pretty satisfied. The register management tools don't come anywhere close to those provided by Intuit Quicken or Microsoft Money, but they do the job. (Other banks allow you to access them directly through Quicken or Money.) The biggest convenience I've noticed so far is being able to pay my bills electronically -- and not just that, but being able to pay them ahead of time. I can get my phone bill in the mail today, see that it's due three weeks from now, and schedule my online bank to electronically pay the bill three days before it's due, keeping my earned interest at a maximum.

There are currently two common methods of accessing online banking: either by downloading software provided by the financial institution, or by using a Browser-based product.

Having used both methods, it's quite clear the Browser-based method is superior in almost every way, not least for the convenience of being able to transact anywhere where there is a SSL-supporting Browser and an Internet connection.

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