Banking online can help you to feel more in control of your money and save you time. How? Having access to your banking online means being able to 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.

In this lesson, you’ll explore the benefits of banking online. We’ll guide you through the first steps of banking online and give you tips on how to stay safe while you do it.

Want to know more about banking basics like managing your money effectively and how to save on your bills and insurance products online? Check out our lessons on banking essentials here.


  • Understand how banking online can help you 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

The benefits of banking online

Read time:

3 mins

Why should you bank online?

People tend to have a preferred way of banking. But the options for banking are very flexible. So, banking online doesn’t have to mean that all your contact with your bank needs to happen online. If your bank has in-person or ‘over the phone’ services, think about using a mix of ways to contact your bank – ones that work for you.

Whether you want to use online banking on its own or just as one of the ways you bank, there are many benefits to consider.


You can bank from almost anywhere

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. 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

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’ve got enough in your account.


You can move money anytime

You don’t need to go to the bank or wait on the phone for service. It’s easy to open your online banking and 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. Online banking lets you keep track of your income and spending at any time. With instant updates to your online banking, you can see exactly what you’ve spent. You can also see 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 forget to move money into your account before a payment goes out. Or you think you’ve set that payment up correctly, but it’s not quite right.

With online banking, you can check regular payments or one-off spends have gone through. This means you don’t get charged for late payments. Plus, you can double-check you’re charged the right amount.


In the moment safety

Protect your money better, with the added safety features of online banking.

For example, some banks let you ‘freeze’ and ‘unfreeze’ your card if it’s lost or stolen. You can do this instantly in the mobile banking app. This stops anyone using it without you knowing. Then if you then find it, you can unfreeze and use your card straight away. You don’t need to wait for a replacement.

Different banks will have different safety features.


Take 2 minutes now to think about how these benefits could help you.

Chapter 2

Setting up online banking

Read time:

5 mins

Before you start

How you set up your online banking will depend on a few things.

Your banks 

Each bank’s online banking has different features and services

Your device type

Online banking from a mobile/tablet looks different to using a laptop/PC

Your model

Apple or Android, Nokia or Samsung – they all work differently

If you’re struggling, don’t forget you can ask your bank for help. They can help you get started with online banking on your device.

Registering and setting up

To start, you’ll need to register for online banking with your bank. There are three main ways to do this.


You can:

  • Go online – If you feel comfortable, use a web browser to find your bank’s website. Not all banks let you register online, so do check
  • Go into a branch
  • Phone your bank


What you’ll need

To register, you’ll need to go through a few steps. Again, these will vary, but there are some general things you can expect.


Here are some examples:

Personal details

Like your name, birth date, postcode and account details

Extra login details

Usernames, passwords, PINs and fingerprints all add extra protection

Terms and Conditions

Read these and make sure you’re comfortable with them

Security checks

Extras your bank might ask for – like a video recording or phone call 

Most banks will need you to do a security check by phone call or message, so you'll need a phone number they can contact you on. 

Getting started on a laptop or desktop

Once you’ve registered, you should be able to find and log in to your online banking through a web browser. If you registered in branch or through mobile banking, your bank will tell you how to log in and get started. Registered online? It should be clear how to log in using the details you just set up.


Getting started on mobile or tablet

On mobile and tablet, getting started can look a little different. This is because you’re likely to use an app rather than a web browser to log in.


Here’s how to download and log in using an app:

Step 1

Go to your device's app store

Step 2

Search for and download your bank’s app

Step 3

Open the app to register / log in

Not sure how to download an app?

You can call our free Academy Digital Helpline on 0345 222 0333. It’s open Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm. The Academy Digital Helpline offers free one-to-one support with digital skills to anyone over 18.

If you’re more familiar using a browser on your phone, look on your bank’s website. They often have the link to download their app here.

Chapter 3

Using online banking

Read time:

6 mins

Logging in

Like registration, logging in varies between devices. The information and security you set up in the registration process will give you an idea of what to expect. So if your bank asked you to set up a password, PIN and fingerprint on registration, this is what you’ll need to access your account.



This is a series of letters, numbers and symbols, picked by you. If you want to know more about how to create better passwords, you can learn more in our lesson, Ten tips for staying safe online.


Multi-factor authentication (MFA)

You might also see ‘Two Factor Authentication’ (2FA). This is where the bank uses two or more types of lock to keep your account safe. For example, they might ask for a password and your fingerprint.



Just like the PIN you use with your bank or credit card when you’re out and about. This is a different one, made up of four or more numbers. You might use this with a password as a second type of lock in case someone else gets through the first one.


Memorable information

When you register, you may be asked to pick some personal questions and give the answers. For example, your first school, car or mother’s maiden name. Banks often ask for this as well as a password, as an extra lock. Or you might need this to help unlock your account if you forget your password.



These are quite popular in mobile banking apps.

Face scan is where you use your device’s camera to scan your face and unlock your device.

Fingerprint uses your fingerprint to unlock your account. Most modern smartphones have fingerprint scanners built in, to do this.

Using two or more types of security to log in to your account can help keep your accounts safe. 

Your homepage

So you’ve logged in and you’re ready to go. How do you start banking? This will depend on what you want to do. There are lots of things 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 to help you get started.

Let’s look at some of the things you’re likely to find on your online banking homepage.


You’ll usually be able to see or find:

  • Your accounts – All the accounts you have with the bank, e.g. current account, Savings account, ISA
  • A search bar – Where you can look for help, or find something in your accounts
  • Your spending – An area or link to see your spending details
  • An option to pay and transfer money – Here you can make a payment, see who you’ve paid before and any Direct Debits and standing orders
  • A way to set up new payees – This is any person or organisation you want to pay
  • Support button or section – Use this to get help with your banking or how to bank online
  • Card management options – Here, you can see your card details, cancel and order new cards, report a lost card or freeze / unfreeze your cards
  • Settings – This usually looks like a gear/cog symbol. You can manage all your account settings here
  • Apply – A way to apply for new products, or set up new accounts. You may not be able to set up all products online – some need a phone call or in-branch chat with your bank

What your homepage looks like depends on who you bank with. 

Check your bank's help and support pages for more information on how to use yours. 

Payments and transfers

There’s lots of ways to make payments and transfer money with online banking. Who and how you can pay will depend on your bank, so make sure you check their help pages. Being able to see and manage your payments online can help you stay on top of your spending.


What can you do online?

  • Transfer money between your accounts
  • Pay new and existing payees
  • Set up Direct Debits and standing orders
  • Cancel your standing orders
  • Review your upcoming payments
  • Send money outside the UK


How online banking can help you manage your account

See past and pending payments

You can search for payments you’ve made and learn more about them. You can also see all your spending within a certain date range.

Sometimes when you make a card payment, it doesn’t go out of your account straight away. These ‘pending’ payments can make it hard to know how much you have left to spend. Online banking usually shows you your ‘available funds’. This is the amount you’ll have to spend once your paid and pending payments have left your account.


Check and download your statements

You can see your latest statement as soon as it’s created. There’s no need to wait for it in the post. You can also download your statements for your records. Then you can send them to others - for example, a landlord to prove your income etc.


See the details of purchases

It’s easy to forget you bought something. You might worry 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 and where you spent the money. This helps to let you know that all the money going out of your account is accounted for.


Change your personal details and preferences

It’s quick and easy to update details like your address or mobile number in your account settings.

You can also change how you hear from your bank. For instance, you might decide to go paper-free and receive all your letters from the bank online. This saves paper and stops you waiting for messages in the post.


Types of card and PIN services

  • Manage your card and its PIN number
  • Order new cards
  • Report cards lost or stolen
  • Freeze your card while you try to find it, to stop it being used
  • Some banks will let you see your card details, PIN number and contactless limit

If you can’t find your card, you don’t need to cancel it straight away if you freeze it instead.

Test your knowledge

Answer this question by selecting one answer from the three options provided.

That's not quite right!

If someone gets hold of your password, having extra layers of security will help keep your account safe.

That's right!

MFA uses two or more types of lock to keep your account safe, such as a password and fingerprint.

Lesson complete!

Well done, you’ve finished this lesson on ‘Banking online’. We’ve talked through what the benefits are, and how to take the first steps to get started. You should be able to register, log on and start using the services. If you need more help, speak to your bank. You can also phone our free Academy Digital Helpline on 0345 222 0333. This number is only for help with getting online, not general banking questions.

Next, why not take our next lesson on Making online payments. It will go into much more detail about how to make online payments, like Direct Debits. But it will also cover how to make payments on other payment services too.

If you’d like to know more about banking basics like managing your money effectively, understanding ways to save on your bills, and insurance products online, you can access our lessons here.

Up next for you:

Next lesson: Making payments online
Back to: Get started online


Bank of Scotland Academy 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. Bank of Scotland does not endorse the services they provide. The information in this module was last updated on 8th November 2023.