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You have seen their ads and you may have wondered if they are worth a second look. What am I talking about? Online banks! Also known as internet banks, these are financial institutions who provide the majority of their banking services over the internet. Typically, online banks offer consumers high savings rates, low loan rates, and a mix of other services. Let's look at 7 winners in this fast growing field:

1. E Trade Bank

Part of E Trade Financial, the discount internet stockbroker. E Trade Bank offers checking accounts, money markets, and certificates of deposits as well as a VISA credit card.

2. Netbank

Along with offering checking and money market accounts, Netbank provides mortgage and home equity lines of credit to customers. With tie-ins to affiliated companies Netbank also offers Auto, Homeowners, Condo/Co-op & Renters Insurance and Life, Health, Long Term Care & Dental Insurance.

3. Virtual Bank

VirtualBank, a division of Lydian Private Bank, is a federally chartered bank regulated by the Office of Thrift Supervision. The bank offers checking, savings, and credit card services to customers.

4. Ever Bank

This leading internet provider of banking services offers the most extensive, and varied services of any online institution. Ever Bank offers business and personal checking accounts, mortgages, home equity loans/lines of credit, reverse mortgages, a VISA credit card, and world currency accounts. This latter category is for investing in Deposit accounts and CDs denominated in any major world currency.

5. Emigrant Direct

Part of Emigrant Savings Bank which traces its roots back to 1850 as a service provider to Irish immigrants. Emigrant has $10 billion in assets and more than $1 billion in net worth. It operates as a full service bank through 36 branches in the New York metropolitan area, and through EmigrantDirect.com. Emigrant offers only consumer services online; their high paying savings account is a chief investment vehicle.

6. ING Direct

ING is a global financial institution of Dutch origin offering banking, insurance and asset management to over 60 million private, corporate and institutional clients in more than 50 countries. ING offers mortgages, loans/lines of credit, savings accounts, certificates of deposit, and money market mutual funds through another division.

7. MetLife Bank

Yes, MetLife. A division of insurance powerhouse Metropolitan Life, MetLife Bank offers savings accounts, certificates of deposit, money market accounts, mortgages, and IRAs to consumers. If you are banking exclusively with a "brick and mortar" institution you may be missing out on high paying investment options or competitive loan rates that easily undercut many traditional banking entities. These online banking success stories are only part of a growing number of savvy providers, some of whom are definitely worth a closer look by you, the consumer.