Supplemental Bank Services

Supplemental Bank Services Review

Most banks offer depositors, and in some cases non-depositors as well, a variety of convenience services. Here are some typical examples and their relative costs.

  • Safe-deposit boxes. Millions of consumers find these boxes, which are locked and kept in bank vaults, useful for the safekeeping of stock and bond certificates, valuable personal papers, jewelry, sterling silver and other precious objects. Only those whom the renter of the box has designated are allowed entry. (An exception to this rule: law-enforcement officials who have obtained a court order.) The boxes come in a variety of sizes; yearly rentals vary according to size from as little as $10 to as much as $200 or more.
  • Money orders. People who do not have checking accounts but wish to pay their bills with a check-like device have the option of purchasing money orders at most banks. The cost — usually $1 or more — is greater than the normal charge for handling a depositor’s personal check.
  • Certified checks. Often used in business transactions, a certified check is drawn against the depositor’s personal account and then taken to the bank for certification — a guarantee by the bank to the payee that the check will be honored. The bank does this by freezing the amount of the check in the depos-itor’s account until the certified check has cleared. The bank often charges a small fee for this service.
  • Cashier’s Checks. Perhaps the most common financial instrument issued by banks, a cash-ier’s check is one that is drawn on the bank’s own account. Since it is the bank that is liable for payment, a cashier’s check assures the payee that it will be honored.
  • Automatic account transfers. As a service to customers who have both savings and checking accounts, many banks will automatically transfer money from the former to the latter to cover an overdraft. The fee for each transfer is usually about $1. Some banks will also make such a transfer on a depositor’s telephoned request.
  • Copies of documents. If you lose your copy of a bank account statement or other document, your bank will supply you with a duplicate copy — generally at a cost of $1 to $7.
  • Travelers’checks. Some banks issue travelers’ checks without charge to their customers. Other banks charge a fee, for example, either 1 percent of the face value of the travelers’ checks or a flat fee such as $2.50, whichever is greater.

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