Tech Savvy: the bank at your fingertips

While licensing was an issue, I didn’t care about my other cards for a long time after realizing how convenient and useful mobile banking is in times like these.

I’ve been banking with US Bank since I got my first debit card over a decade ago, and I use the company’s mobile app a lot to check my balance, pay my debit card. credit and deposit checks. But it wasn’t until I thought I had lost my cards that the app really kicked in.

Within seconds, I was able to temporarily lock my three cards. So if someone else had them, they couldn’t spend any money. The good thing about the temporary lockout feature was that any bills I had that were automatically removed from those cards would still do so, so I didn’t risk missing crucial payments.

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But if I needed to use my debit card for anything in the meantime, I could unlock it for a minute and use Samsung Pay on my Galaxy S10 smartphone, where my card is linked and available to use in n ‘any place that accepts electronic Payments.

My plan was to lock my cards while I continued to search for my wallet. I would report them as lost and order new ones if I couldn’t find them by the end of the day. But coincidentally, my wallet had been safe in my apartment the entire time, just in a place I didn’t remember leaving it. So when I found it, I unlocked my cards and pretended nothing happened – and jumped for joy that I didn’t have to figure out how to get a new driver’s license.

While the banking app was crucial during my time of crisis, it is also very useful on a daily basis. I understand that I don’t have to go to the bank to deposit a check or transfer money from one account to another. I can set up automatic monthly transfers to my savings account, order new checks, redeem reward points from my credit card, and even apply for a new line of credit.

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If I happen to be traveling and need to find an ATM, the app will let me enter a specific city or address so I can see what’s nearby.

Another feature of the US Bank app that I just started trying out is the budgeting feature. Essentially, the app tracks my monthly expenses, breaks them down into categories (auto expenses, food, bills, pets, etc.), and recommends a budget for each category. Then it tells me how much money I’m going to save each month if I stick to that budget. I’ve never been very good at budgeting, but I hope the app helps me pay a little more attention to how much I’m spending this year. I guess I’ll judge my success on how my savings account looks at the end of the year.

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And I feel safe with my mobile banking app because there are a number of ways I can choose to log in. I can set up multiple levels of verification before accessing my accounts, and if I forgot to sign out, the app will automatically do that for me after a few minutes. And as another security measure, the app does not allow me to take screenshots of any pages.

I feel like mobile banking allows me to do just about everything from home, other than withdrawing and depositing money. But if I need to speak to a real person, I can quickly set up a phone call or make an appointment for a virtual or in-person meeting at my bank.

In an age where staying at home is often safer – and let’s face it, more appealing – than going out, I strongly suggest checking out what your bank has to offer in the mobile world.

THERESA BOURKE can be contacted at [email protected] or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at

Michael J. Birnbaum