Alliance & Leicester
Alliance & Leicester has gone to great lengths to make its site secure. To log in you need an eight-digit customer ID number, which is initially sent to you via the post, and your five-digit PIN. Security provisions don’t end there: although the PIN will let you view statements, if you want to transfer cash out of your account you’ll need to enter two random letters from your password.
If you access the site from a machine you haven’t used before, you’re also prompted to answer additional questions based on your memorable information, such as your place of birth. Whenever you log in, you’re presented with an image and passphrase known only to you, to ensure you’re using the genuine Alliance & Leicester site and not one set up by a phisher.
Once in, the site itself is basic but functional. You can view statements, pay bills, transfer money between accounts and set up standing orders and direct debits – all in all, everything you’d expect from an online site, but not much more. The no-frills nature of the site, however, means it runs without a problem in most browsers including Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera.
Statements are only viewable for a decidedly stingy 265 days. Thankfully, they can be exported into Quicken/Money, or Excel in CSV format, for long-term archiving on your PC.
Mobile banking is provided by Monilink, which, rather than operate by text message, requires you to download an application to a compatible Java-enabled phone. As a result, it won’t work on the iPhone, Windows Mobile or BlackBerry devices (although support for BlackBerry is promised soon). Mobile banking is free until the end of May, after which balance enquiries will cost 20p a pop and mini statements 25p each.
Alliance & Leicester’s offering is basic, but it does the job. Security is well handled, with a reassuring tendency to err on the side of caution. The short window for statements is disappointing as is the limited mobile support, but for simple online banking it’s secure and reliable.
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