A virtual bank account is a type of bank account that exists only online. Most banks offer some sort of online banking service, but true virtual banks often do not have physical branches or ATMs. With a virtual bank account, most transactions take place over the Internet.

Many types of bank accounts can be virtual, including checking accounts, savings accounts, certificates of deposit, money market accounts, etc. Users often use the Internet to check account balances, transfer funds, and perform other routine transactions. Some virtual bank accounts offer online bill payment services, which eliminate the need to issue and send physical checks when paying bills.

While virtual banks often do not have their own branches or ATMs, customers still have ways to access their money. For example, some virtual banks identify associated ATMs, from which customers can withdraw their money without a fee. Other virtual banks sometimes refund a certain number of transactions at foreign ATMs each month. If free use of the ATM is not an option, customers can often receive cash back on point-of-sale transactions using their debit cards.

Most online banks allow customers to sign up for a new account on their website. The account opening process can be lengthy, often involving mailing or faxing account documents between the bank and the new customer. Once the account is opened, the customer usually has electronic access to their account and can carry out most transactions online.

A virtual bank account has several advantages over a standard bank account. As virtual banks do not have physical branches, their overhead costs are much lower than those of traditional banks. Many e-banks pass these savings on to the customer, waiving bank account fees or offering higher interest rates on savings accounts.

Also, a virtual bank account is often considered more convenient than a traditional bank account. Customers do not need to restrict their transactions to banking hours; They can usually complete just about any transaction they want at any time of the night or day. Services like online bill payment help reduce the time spent paying bills, as well as the cost of stamps, checks and envelopes.

However, some people are put off by the downsides of online banking. One of the biggest disadvantages of virtual bank accounts is that there is no physical branch to accept deposits. Customers with virtual bank accounts must generally use direct deposit or mail their deposits. Some people find they miss the personal service of a physical bank. Also, many people are wary of doing their banking over the Internet; PC viruses and spyware can put customers of virtual bank accounts at risk of identity theft.