If you’re like the average person, you probably only use your bank for a handful of things, like cashing paychecks, withdrawing money, and mobile banking. But it offers a plethora of services, some of which you may not even be aware of.
Get the most out of your bank by reviewing the standard services most provide.
Common Types of Bank Services Offer
While different banks offer different things, most banks provide the following services.
1. Bank Accounts
A bank account is a place where you can deposit your money. Bank account types include:
- Checking Account. A checking account allows you to manage your daily finances. You add funds to it by depositing checks and cash or setting up direct deposit for your paycheck. You take money out by writing checks, withdrawing cash at a bank branch or ATM, or using a connected debit card.
- Savings Account. A savings account is a place to park your money for an emergency or a short-term savings goal like a vacation or car purchase. Savings accounts earn interest, but it’s much less than other investments like stocks and bonds. Those savings instruments are better for long-term goals like retirement.
- Money Market Account. A money market account is a savings account that earns higher interest rates than a traditional savings account. Money market accounts often require a sizable initial deposit and limit how many withdrawals you can make each month.
- Certificate of Deposit (CDs). A certificate of deposit is another type of savings account. CDs typically offer greater returns than money market accounts, and they’re a safer investment than stocks because they have a fixed rate of return. However, you can’t access your money until the CD maturity date.
- Business Accounts. Business accounts like business checking and savings allow small-business owners, freelancers, and side hustlers to keep their business and personal funds separate. That makes accounting and tax preparation easier and protects your personal money from business-related liabilities.
2. Credit Cards
Credit cards have limits on how much you can charge, and you incur interest charges if you don’t pay your balance in full each month. Some have annual fees; some earn rewards like cash back or travel perks; and some offer 0% APR balance transfers. Read the terms and conditions carefully before you apply for a card.
ATMs allow you to deposit funds, withdraw cash, and check your account balances without seeing a bank teller during business hours. You can use an ATM at a bank where you don’t have an account, but you’ll likely incur a fee.
4. Digital Banking
Bank websites and apps let you perform basic banking transactions from anywhere at any time of day. These transactions include mobile check deposits, transfers between accounts, monitoring accounting activity, and online bill pay.
5. Cashier’s Checks
A cashier’s check is a check your bank issues. The money comes from your bank account, but because the issuer is the bank, the check is guaranteed. Cashier’s checks are often required for large purchases like home down payments because the recipient knows they won’t bounce.
6. Money Orders
Money orders are also guaranteed forms of payment. You pay the amount in cash plus any fees the bank charges. Since you’re making the payment upfront, the recipient knows the money order won’t bounce.
While most banks require you to have an account to get a cashier’s check, you don’t need one for a money order. However, the largest amount you can typically get a money order for is $1,000. This limit is meant to discourage and prevent fraud since once a money order is sent, it’s hard to cancel. Cashier’s checks can be for any amount if you have the money in your account to cover it.
7. Traveler’s Checks
Traveler’s checks are a way to access money when you’re in another country. You buy the check at your bank, signing it when you buy it, and only you can endorse the check to cash it. That makes it safer than carrying a large amount of money when you travel.
8. Wire Transfers
A wire transfer allows you to send money directly from your account to another account without withdrawing cash or writing a check. It’s a good way to send money quickly and securely, especially internationally.
Banks lend money to borrowers for a variety of purposes. . Banks add interest charges to each monthly payment, which the borrower makes until they pay off the balance.
Some banks only lend to existing customers, while others lend to anyone who meets their requirements. That said, you can often get better terms on a loan if you already have an account with the bank.
Common loan types are:
- Mortgages. A mortgage is a loan to purchase real estate. You make payments on the amount over a fixed term. The property you’re buying serves as collateral, which means the bank can seize it if you can’t repay the loan.
- Home Equity Loans. A home equity loan lets you borrow against the money you’ve already paid toward your mortgage. You can use it to pay for home renovations and repairs, consolidate debt, or fund other expenses.
- Auto Loans. An auto loan from a bank may be more affordable than financing a car through a dealership for some borrowers.
- Personal Loans. Unlike the above loans, you can use a personal loan for almost anything you want — debt consolidation, medical expenses, a wedding, you name it. The exceptions are college tuition, a down payment on a house, and business expenses.
- Business Loans. You can use business loans for any business-related expenses, from hiring employees to buying inventory and equipment. You cannot use business loans for personal reasons.
9. Notary Services
Most bank branches have someone on staff who can notarize a legal document for you. They provide this service free of charge to existing customers. If you aren’t a customer, many will still notarize the document, but they may charge you a fee.
10. Safe Deposit Boxes
A safe deposit box is a secure place to store valuables, from personal records to jewelry. Only the owner of the box can access it. Banks typically charge anywhere from $20 to $200 per year for a safe deposit box, depending on the size.
11. Foreign Currency Exchange
Exchanging currency overseas, such as at airport kiosks, can be pricey. Avoid high fees by converting your money at your bank before you travel. Some banks will even do it for free.
But don’t bank on it.
There’s a lot more to your bank than you might realize. It’s a one-stop shop for many aspects of your financial life. Sometimes, they even offer delightful promotions like an ice cream bike or a free breakfast biscuit.