Banking online can help save you time, and it can also help you to feel more in control of your money. How? Well, having access to your banking online means you can check it whenever you like. This means you can make payments, check your balance, manage your spending and more – at a time that suits you.

Perhaps you are out of the house, and you need to make an emergency purchase, but you’re unsure if you have enough in your current account. You can open your banking app on your mobile phone, check your balance and even move some money from another account to cover the purchase. This allows you a lot of flexibility and it saves you having to find or call your bank.

In this lesson, we’ll help you understand more about the benefits you can get by banking online. We’ll help you with the first steps of banking online and help you get set up. We’ll also give you some tips on how you can stay safe while managing your online banking.


  • Understand how banking online can help you to save time and keep track of your money.
  • Begin the process of setting up your online banking.
  • Learn the basics of banking online.

Read time

14 mins

Chapter 1


Read time

3 mins

Why should you consider banking online?

People tend to have a preferred/fixed way of banking. But the options for banking are very flexible. So, banking online doesn’t have to mean that all your interactions with your bank need to happen online. If your bank has in-person services or services over the phone you could consider using a mixture of ways to bank that will work for all the different ways you want to.

Whether you choose to use online banking as a standalone service or you want it to be just one of the ways you bank, there are many benefits to consider.


For example:

  • You can bank from almost anywhere – This means you can save time by not physically having to go to the bank. You may still want to do some of your banking in person, but even doing just some of your smaller banking tasks online can save you a trip and some time
  • You can check your balance at any time – This means you don’t have to worry about overspending or spending time visiting or calling a bank. You can check your balance before you buy to make sure you have enough in your account
  • You can move money anytime – Because you don’t need to rely on going to the bank or waiting on the phone for service, you don’t need to plan for making payments or moving money around. You can open your online banking and easily set up or make new payments. Plus, you can move money from one account to another to meet your payments – almost instantly
  • See your statements and spending – You don’t have to wait for your latest statement in the post. You can keep track of your income and spending at any time online. With instant updates to your online banking, you can see exactly what you’ve spent, when you’ve spent it and what you have left in your account
  • Check your payments have been made – Paying bills and making payments can be a worry for anyone. Maybe you forgot to move money into your account before a payment goes out, maybe you think your payment has been set up correctly, but it hasn’t. Having online banking means you can check at any moment whether your regular payments or one-off spends have gone through. This can be really handy to make sure you don’t get charged for late payments. It can also ensure you’re not charged more than you should be
  • In the moment safety – Especially with a mobile banking app, you can use the added safety features to better protect your money. For example, some banks will allow you to ‘freeze’ and ‘unfreeze’ your card if you think it's been lost or stolen. You can do this instantly in the app. So, if it has been stolen, no one can use it to make purchases. If you then find it, you can unfreeze and use your card without having to wait for a replacement. There may be many other safety features, depending on your bank

Chapter 2


Read time

5 mins

Before you start

The steps to setting up your online banking will depend on a few things. First, the bank or banks you are with. Each bank will have its own online banking features and services. This means that registering and using the service may be different for each bank.

It will also depend on the kind of device you are using. There will often be some differences between the features on a mobile or tablet vs a desktop or laptop. With mobile banking, you can more easily manage your money on the move. Most people carry their mobile with them and are able to access the internet using mobile data. This means there’s more opportunity for banks to build features that will make the most of you being able to bank on the move.

Banking online experiences can even vary down to the model and type of phone you’re using e.g. Apple, Android, Nokia or Samsung. So, it’s important to be aware that you can ask your bank for help. They should be able to help you get started and understand how to bank on your device.


Registering and setting up

To begin your set up, you will need to register for online banking with the bank of your choice. There are three main ways to do this.


They are:

  • You can go online – If you feel comfortable, you can use a web browser to search for or navigate to your bank’s website. From there you can look on their website for instructions on how to get started or register for online banking. Some will allow you to do it online, others may ask you to go into branch or phone them
  • You can go into a branch – They can help you understand how to get started with their online banking services
  • You can phone your bank – From there, they should be able to help you get started


What you’ll need

To register, you’ll need to go through a number of steps. Again, these will vary, but there are some general things you may be able to expect.


For example:

  • Personal details – In order to find your account, your bank will likely ask for some personal details. For example, your name, date of birth, postcode and account details
  • Creating your log-in details – You will usually be given a customer number to help you to log in to your online banking. You will also be asked to provide details on how you, and only you, will unlock your account. Some banks will do this by asking you to create a username and password. Others may ask you to set up a pin, some memorable information, a fingerprint or face identification. These extra layers of protection help to make sure you’re the only one who can use your account
  • Terms and conditions – You will usually have to read and agree to some terms and conditions. You should read these and make sure you’re comfortable with what you’re signing up to
  • Security checks – Some banks will add extra security checks into the process. This is simply to make sure it is absolutely you who is setting up your online banking. This can sometimes be a phone call with the bank, it can also require you to record a short video of yourself so they can check you are who you say you are. Because most banks will require you to do a security check via call or message, you will need some kind of phone number


Getting started on a laptop/desktop

Once you’re registered, you should be able to find and log in to your online banking through a web browser. If you started your process through a branch or mobile banking, your bank should have given you some information on how to log in and get started. If you registered online, it should be clear how to log-in using the details you just set up.

Getting started on mobile/tablet

On mobile and tablet, getting started can look a little different. This is because you will usually use an app rather than a web browser to log in. A good place to start is by searching for your bank’s app through your device’s app store. From there, you can download and open it. Once open, you’ll be able to register or log-in. You will either use the instructions in the app or the instructions given to you by your bank in branch or over the phone.

If you’re unsure how to download an app from your device’s app store, then you can get help from your bank or from our Digital Helpline on 0345 222 0333. It is open Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm. The Digital Helpline can give free one to one support with digital skills to anyone over 18. You can also usually get a link to download the mobile banking app through the bank’s website. So, if you’re more familiar using a browser, you can try this first.

Chapter 3


Read time

6 mins

Logging in

Like registration, log on will vary between devices. But the information and security that you set up in the registration process will give you an idea of what to expect. For example, if your bank asked you to set up a password, pin and fingerprint on registration, then this will be what they ask you enter in order to access your account.


There are a few main types of log-in security:

  • Passwords – You choose a set of letters, numbers and symbols which you will enter when you log in. These are usually the main way to unlock your account.
  • Multi-factor authentication – A type of security used to lock and keep your accounts safe. It means using 2 or more types of lock. So, if someone gets your password, for example, they will still need to get through a different kind of lock
  • Pins – You would select 4 or more numbers and this is often used with a password as a second type of lock in case someone gets through the first lock
  • Memorable information – Usually memorable information is an answer to a question, it should be something meaningful to you. It is often used with a password as an extra lock. It is also sometimes used to help unlock your account if you forget your password
  • Face scan – A type of security that uses your device’s camera to scan your face and unlock your device
  • Fingerprint – Another type of security lock, but this time using your fingerprint to unlock your account. You will need to have a fingerprint scanner on your device. Most modern smartphones will have this feature built in

Your homepage

So, you’ve logged on and you’re ready to go. How do you start banking? It firstly depends on what you want to do. There are many things that you can do with online banking and on a banking app. Exploring your online banking homepage or app’s main screen is a good place to start. Some banks will also have a guide of some sort to help you get started. Let’s take a look at some of the usual things you will find on your online banking homepage.

You will usually be able to see or find:

  • Your accounts – You will be able to see a tile or representation of all the accounts you have with the bank
  • Search – You will usually see some kind of search bar. This will allow you to look for help, or find something in your accounts
  • Spending – You will find some kind of representation of your spending or a link to see this information
  • Pay and transfer – You will usually have some kind of pay or transfer button/tab. This will allow you to see accounts you have paid previously or set up new payees and make a payment. It will also usually include your list of direct debits and standing orders
  • Support – There will usually be some kind of help or support button or section. You can use this to get help with your banking or how to bank online
  • Card management – There will often be some kind of card management section, especially on apps. These allow you to do actions like see your card details, cancel and order new cards, report a card lost or freeze/unfreeze a card
  • Settings – You will usually see a link to manage your account settings. This will usually look like a gear symbol
  • Apply – There will usually be some way to apply for new products, so you can set up new accounts. With most banks, you won’t be able to set up all of their products online, so you might be referred to speak to someone via phone or branch

Payments and transfers

There are lots of ways you can use online banking to make payments and transfer money. You can pay new and existing payees. You can also transfer money between your accounts. This means you can pay and transfer money from anywhere.

Online, you can set up direct debits and standing orders. You can even cancel your standing orders, review your upcoming payments and send money outside the UK. Who you can pay and how you can pay will depend on your bank, so make sure you check their help pages.

Having this ability to review and manage your payments online means you can feel more equipped to stay on top of your spending.


How online banking can help you manage your account:

  • See your pending payments – When you make a card payment, they don’t automatically go out of your account. This can make it hard to know how much you have left to spend. Which is why online banking usually shows you your ‘available funds’ which is the amount you will have to spend once your currently paid and your pending payments have left your account. They’re a better indication of how much money you currently have
  • Check your statements – You can see these as soon as they are created, so you don’t need to wait for them in the post
  • Search payments – You can search for specific payments and learn more about them. You can also, for example, see all your spending within a certain date range
  • See the details of purchases – It can be easy to forget you bought something, so you might be worried when you see something on your account you don’t recognise. With online banking, you can see the details of your spending so you can find out when you spent the money and where. This can help reassure you that all the money from your account was spent by you
  • Download your statements – You can download your statements for your records. You can also send them to, for example, a landlord to prove your income etc.
  • Switch to paperless banking – With everything you need online, at your fingerprints, you can go paperless and receive all your letters from the bank online. This can save paper and time waiting for messages in the post
  • Change your personal details – Update details like your address or mobile number in your account settings in an instant. This helps to make sure changes happen quickly


Card and pin services

You can use online banking to manage your card and card’s pin number. Like we have mentioned, you can also order new cards. You can report cards lost or stolen and you can freeze your card through your online banking to stop it from being used. Within online banking you can often see your card details, your pin number and your card’s contactless limit.

Module complete!

Well done! You have finished this lesson on banking online. You should now know what the benefits are and be able to take the first steps to get started. You should be able to register, to log on and start using the services. If you do need more help, you should speak to your bank. You can also phone our free Digital Helpline on 0345 222 0333. You should note that this number can only be used for help getting online and they cannot help you with your general banking queries.

We suggest you go on to take our next lesson on ‘Making online payments’. It will go into much more detail about how to actually make the payments we have spoken about here online. It will cover traditional online banking payments, like direct debits. But it will also cover how to make payments on other payment services too.


Up next for you:

Next module: Making online payments

Back to: Managing money online

Scottish Widows Be Money Well is committed to providing information in a way that is accessible and useful for our users. This information, however, is not in any way intended to amount to authority or advice on which reliance should be placed. You should seek professional advice as appropriate and required. Any sites, products or services named in this module are just examples of what's available. Scottish Widows does not endorse the services they provide. The information in this module was last updated on 31st Oct 2022.