Deposit BoxWhat are safe deposit boxes, how safe are they, how do you use a safe deposit box, and what you shouldn’t do with your safe deposit box. All of those questions and more are answered right here.

What Are Safe Deposit Boxes?

What Are Safe Deposit Boxes?

A safe deposit box is a safe within a larger safe; the larger safe being in the bank‘s vault. Safety deposit boxes that you can rent are typically found in banks, but they may also be found in post offices and larger institutions. Safety deposit boxes are actually one of the most practical elements within a bank vault since the need to hold massive amounts of paper currency has lessened thanks to digital currency. Safety deposit boxes vary in size, and have to be opened independently of the banks main vault. Getting into the vault is one thing, but a thief then has to crack your safe box before gaining access to your valuables.

How Safe Is A Safe Deposit Box?

A safe deposit box is incredibly safe for numerous reasons because it is located in a very secure bank vault. Even if a thief gains access to the bigger vault, they still have to crack your box. Plus, there may be hundreds of boxes in a vault, which means there is also a safety in numbers aspect to box safety too. Here are a few other safety factors.

  • Your box  in a highly secure vault
  • Heat, motion, vibration detectors in the vault
  • Armed and unarmed guards are often posted
  • Special police response units and protocols
  • Doors that weigh more than three tons
  • Mostly fire proof and mostly bomb proof
  • Not flood proof but flood and water resistant

There are more than 25 million safe deposit box located in the USA, and only 0.1% of them had police reports filed about thefts in the year 2015. That is around 33,000 that were affected, and some of the reports are about singular missing items that were found to have been misplaced or taken out by a co-owner of the box. (Source – UCR.FBI.Gov)

Taking An Extra Step To Keep Your Safe Deposit Box Safer

The key is to make it as difficult as possible for other people to gain access to your safe deposit box and the items you place within. Be careful not to tell people about it unless you trust them without question. Be careful when giving access and instructions to the executor of your will. Also, try to think less about external intruders and more about protecting your items from the staff at the bank.

  • Keep a record of what you have in your box
  • Keep your passwords, keys and codes safe
  • Do not tell people about your box, but write it in your will
  • Take a photo of the possessions in your box
  • Take extra precautions with waterproof bags and maybe even fireproof boxes

You may think that keeping your items at home is safer, but 17% of all residential crimes involve burglary, whereas only 1.8% of all crimes reported in the year 2015 involved banks.  (Source FBI.Gov)

Are Your Items In Your Save Deposit Box Insured?

safe deposit box insurance

Most banks offer extra insurance, but many banks do not offer automatic insurance as standard on their safe deposit box. Insuring the contents of your safe deposit box will cost you extra because safe deposit boxes are not covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp like the money in your accounts is.

Some people pay extra and take whatever insurance the bank offers, and some people cover their safe deposit box items in their homeowner’s policy. Others take out insurance from an independent company. This link leads to a page explaining  what the FDIC covers.

Safe Deposit Boxes Are Not Insured By The FDIC
 (Image Source Link – https://www.fdic.gov/deposit/covered/notinsured.html )

How To Use A Safe Deposit Box

The staff at the bank will explain how to use your safe deposit box when you rent one from them, but in essence, it is simply a safe within a bank vault. Other than the initial security and opening time restrictions, there is little difference between a banks safe deposit box and one that you purchase at home. Here are a few of the security measures that a box owner/renter may have to have or produce:

  •  A pin number for the box, to gain entry, or both
  • Biometrics for the box, to gain entry, or both
  • A key or two keys for the box
  • A key card for the box, to gain entry, or both
  • A code to enter the room and/or maybe one for the box
  • Give a signature when visiting
  • Produce ID when visiting

Some safe deposit boxes do not allow you to keep weapons in your box, or drugs, or hazardous materials. Despite the fact that your box is private, there is no guarantee that they will not look in your box. They may also see what you put in your box when they watch you on the bank’s cameras.

The Do’s And Don’ts Of Deposit Box Renting

Dos and Donts

There is no law that says a box renter may not keep a gun in his or her safe deposit box, but most banks have rental agreements that prohibit the storage of guns, explosives, narcotics, intoxicating liquors, property of an illegal nature, destructive, or malodorous items.

The reasons for these rules are rather obvious. Nobody wants to see a person with a gun within the bowels of a bank, and the same is true of explosives and other restricted items. If you have something such as an antique gun, then you will need special written permission from your bank.

 DO

Document how you wish to pass on the contents of your box if you pass away, even if it means giving instructions to your bank to allow your relatives to use the box if you pass away.

Decide whether you need insurance and consider the cost-benefits of insurance because it is generally only required for high-value or irreplaceable items.

Store items in sealed containers in case there is a flood, and to protect the items from pungent smells. Some people also place their items in a fireproof box, which they place inside their safe deposit box.

Check up on your box at least once per year and take a photo of the contents every time you check. Be careful whom you share your photos with because you need to severely limit the amount of information a thief can get his or her hands on.

DON’T

Feel free to store some cash, but do not stash the bulk of your wealth. Remember that inflation will eat away at it. You are better off storing most of your wealth in a diversified investment portfolio.

Do not store items that you may need in an emergency, which is another reason why storing a gun in there is not a smart idea.

Forget to pay your rental fees and you may encounter problems. Set up an automatic payment so that you do not have to think about it.

How Much Will A Safe Deposit Box Cost Me?

Each bank has its own safe deposit boxes with different dimensions. There is not a set size that most banks have. Some have numerous safe deposit boxes of one size, and then have a limited number of varied sized boxes for which they charge a premium. Here are two average sizes and average prices for safe deposit boxes in the USA.

02” x 05” x 12” = $15 – $35 per year
15” x 22” x 22” = $100 – $700 per year

diffrent box sizes

Banks have their own standard sizes that may differ from their competitors next door. For example, Bank of America may have 3x3x12 as their standard small, whereas Citibank may have 2x2x12 as their standard small. Whichever the case, the average cost of a standard small is $35 per year, and the average cost of a standard large is $300 per year.

Reasons Why You May Use A Safe Deposit Box

You have probably made up your mind as to if you are going to rent a safe deposit box by now, but if you have not, here is a short list of the most common reasons why people use safety deposit boxes.

  •  It helps to keep some of your items private and away from people in your home
  • They are sometimes used to store important documents that are not needed in emergencies
  • Spare keys are often kept in safe deposit boxes, which includes keys to safes located at home
  • Items have more protection from floods, fires and natural disasters
  • The increased security makes them far less likely to be stolen than if you keep your items elsewhere
  • The cost-per-security measure is far better than if you try to secure your items yourself
  • It is more difficult for family members and staff members to steal from you
  • Items that you may misplace or lose could be kept in a safe deposit box
  • Important papers that your family may need can be kept in your box

Your reasons are your own as to why you rent a box, and nobody says that you have to keep valuable possessions in your safe deposit box. There is nothing wrong with filling it with spare keys, copies of your will, irreplaceable photos and a bundle of cash that you don’t want your spouse’s attorneys to find.

Here Are Some Popular High Street Banks That Offer Safe Deposit Boxes

The number one in front of the phone number is the code for US phone numbers. If you are dialing from a mobile phone, then the number one is not usually required.

Wells Fargo
Annual Cost: $30 to $120 per year
Extra Insurance Options? Yes
National Phone Number: 1 (800) 869-3557

US Bank
Annual Cost: Up to $150 in many states
Extra Insurance Options? Yes
National Phone Number: 1 (800) 872-2657

Regions Bank
Annual Cost: Up to $125 without discounts
Extra Insurance Options? Yes
National Phone Number: 1 (800) 734-4667

Bank of America
Annual Cost: Start at $18 per year
Extra Insurance Options? Yes
National Phone Number: 1 (800) 432-1000

Citibank
Annual Cost: Varies by location and type of bank account held
Extra Insurance Options? Yes
National Phone Number: 1 (888) 248-4226

Chase Bank
Annual Cost: $15 to $65 per year
Extra Insurance Options? Yes
National Phone Number: 1 (800) 935-9935

Morgan Stanley
Annual Cost: Inadequate online information on the subject
Extra Insurance Options? Yes
National Phone Number: 1 (888) 454-3965

PNC Bank
Annual Cost: Up to $100 per year
Extra Insurance Options? Yes
National Phone Number: 1 (888) 762-2265

BNY Mellon Bank
Annual Cost: Inadequate online information on the subject
Extra Insurance Options? Yes
National Phone Number: 1(314) 613-8200

Capital One
Annual Cost: Varies by branch location
Extra Insurance Options? Yes
National Phone Number: 1 (877) 383-4802

HSBC Bank
Annual Cost: Varies by location, by state, and for personal, business and investment uses
Extra Insurance Options? Yes
National Phone Number: 1 (800) 975-4722

TD Bank
Annual Cost: Varies by location
Extra Insurance Options? Yes
National Phone Number: 1 (888) 751-9000

BB&T Bank
Annual Cost: Up To $150 per year
Extra Insurance Options? Yes
National Phone Number: 1 (800) 226-5228

State Street
Annual Cost: $8 to $80 per year
Extra Insurance Options? Yes
National Phone Number: 1-617-786-3000

SunTrust Bank
Annual Cost: Varies by location, and is $25 less if you are an account holder
Extra Insurance Options? Yes
National Phone Number: 1 (800) 786-8787

Charles Schwab
Annual Cost: Varies by branch location
Extra Insurance Options? Yes
National Phone Number: 1 (866) 855-9102

Fifth Third Bank
Annual Cost: $32 to $140 per year.
Extra Insurance Options? Yes
National Phone Number: 1 (866) 671-5353

Citizens Bank
Annual Cost: $25 to $125 – The only bank on this list to offer a  full price list online 
Extra Insurance Options? Yes
National Phone Number: 1 (800) 922-9999

Santander Bank
Annual Cost: $30-$120
Extra Insurance Options? Yes
National Phone Number: 1 (877) 768-2265

BMO Harris Bank
Annual Cost: Varies by branch location, and there are discounts for certain account holders
Extra Insurance Options? Yes
National Phone Number: 1 (888) 340-2265

M&T Bank
Annual Cost: Varies by location
Extra Insurance Options? Yes
National Phone Number: 1 (800) 724-2440

FirstMerit
Annual Cost: $21 to $317 per year
Extra Insurance Options? Unknown
National Phone Number:  1 (888) 554 4362

North Akron Savings
Annual Cost: Prices start at $12 per year
Extra Insurance Options? Unknown
National Phone Number: (330) 434-9137 (Ohio only)