Watch out for some of the hidden features of Chase online banking. Once upon a time, many Chase account holders were actually customers of Washington Mutual. But 2008 was a difficult time for banks, and eventually Chase acquired Washington Mutual, and all of their customers, jolting them with an involuntary transition to an entirely new system for online banking. In fact, if you go to WaMu.com now, you’ll just find a web page urging you to update your bookmarks to Chase.com. But then you’re just one click away from logging in to the new Chase web site.
One of the strangest features of Chase’s online banking is the way that they bundle your checking account information with information about other Chase-issued credit cards. This means that before you can get any information on your account activity, you have to click on a link to indicate which account you’re interested in! At first this is an inconvenience, but Chase also offers a handy overview. If you’re just interested in your balances, they all appear on the first page.
The online banking page also lets you change the way Chase handles overdrafts. It’s been said that in the past, banks secretly tried to maximize the number of fees they could charge customers when their accounts were overdrawn. New legislation passed in 2010 now requires banks to get customer consent before they could establish any overdraft policies that would result in additional fees. It seems to me that that’s the secret agenda behind the icon that Chase has innocently labeled “Update Overdraft Coverage.” It may be useful if you have to have your debit card working for every transaction, even if this means you’ll pay whopping “overdraft” fees for it later. But most consumers should set up their Chase accounts so that if there isn’t enough money in their account, the transaction is simply declined – without any additional fees.
Chase Bank offers most of the features you’d expect to see in any online banking site. And the information is transmitted over a secure connection, meaning that your browser encrypts your password and other information as it’s passing across the internet, so it can’t be intercepted by hackers interested in your bank information! They’ll allow you to set up automatic bill-paying, and they’ll urge you (several times) to switch to “paperless” statements, so they don’t have to keep mailing monthly statements them to your home address. But the handiest feature is probably the account alerts. Here you can configure your online banking account so if your balance drops below a certain amount, or if your account is overdrawn – it contacts you automatically!