If you haven't given online banking any consideration, you might want to. First, know that it goes by many names, such as online banking, Internet banking, PC banking, home banking, and electronic banking.

Online banking permits you to pay bills online, transfer money between accounts, and access account information at any time.

Since online banks don't have all the expenses that traditional banks do (such as marble columns and red carpets), they can typically offer more competitive interest rates. In recent years, as online banks tried to attract more customers, they have frequently offered extra-special rates and deals.

There are various degrees of online banking. You may have a traditional checking account at a traditional, venerable bank such as Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) or Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), but if it offers some online services (as it probably does), you might find that you can begin checking your account balances online. If so, you'll be doing some online banking. At the other end of the spectrum, you might move all your money to an Internet-only bank, and take care of all your banking needs online. If you use an Internet-only bank, one advantage of it is that you can access it wherever you are. You can move from Anchorage to Tampa and not have to change banks.

If you're wondering about the safety of online banking, know that a good online bank (and online wings of traditional banks) will take security very seriously and use encryption technology to protect customers. But, don't take our word for it. With any online bank you're considering, poke around its website and look for a link to information on its security provisions. Each website should list this somewhere. If you don't find it, ask about it.

Learn more about banking in our All About Banking area.

Also of interest should be our Savings Center, which is helpful if you're thinking about how to best deploy your short-term moola (it offers Fools some special deals on interest rates). And you can learn all about brokerages and find one that's right for you in our Broker Center. (Did you know that some well-regarded brokerages are offering commissions as low as $5?)