What you can’t achieve with online banking
Online banks changed the way we bank—for the better—and some people now live entirely without a brick-and-mortar bank account. Online customers can earn more money, pay less in fees, and enjoy the convenience of banking from their computer or mobile device.
However, you might not want to ditch your bank branch just yet. Although, they may seem old-fashioned, branches offer several valuable services that you only miss when you can’t have them.
Does that mean you should close your internet-only accounts? No way. If you don’t have an online savings account, you are missing out.
Here are six perks of using a bank or credit union that offers physical locations, according to www.thebalance.com.
Instant cashier’s cheques and money orders
Do you need to make a purchase, but a card (or personal cheque) just won’t do? For some transactions, like home purchases and certain types of deposits, you need “cleared” funds. That usually means you need to bring a cashier’s cheque, wire money to an account, or provide a money order to whoever you are paying.
Online banks can provide cashier’s cheques, but you don’t get same-day service. Instead, you typically order the cheque online and then wait a few days for the cheque to arrive by mail (or pay a modest fee for overnight service).
Sometimes that is not feasible. You might not even know exactly how much the cheque should be for until a day or two before you need it. It is nice to have the flexibility to change things without tying up your funds. Ordering multiple cashier’s cheques and trying to cancel an unused cashier’s cheque via mail requires an excess of cash on hand.
If you are on the hunt for that perfect apartment or making last-minute negotiations on a home purchase, instant access is a must.
Unlimited cash withdrawals
It is probably a rare occasion when you need a significant amount of cash. But when you do, it is nice to have the option to withdraw what you need. For example, you may need cash to buy a used car on short notice.
Getting a significant amount from an ATM is difficult. There are ways to withdraw substantial amounts of cash from online bank accounts, but you may need to visit a bank or credit union that is willing to work with you.
With an account at a brick-and-mortar bank or credit union, getting cash is as easy as filling out a withdrawal slip at the branch. As a bonus, you can also get cash back into your account quickly and easily. Cash is unsafe and it creates temptation, so there is little reason to keep it around any longer than necessary.
Safe deposit boxes
Do you have some valuables and no good place to keep them? Are you concerned about what would happen to your files if your house catches fire?
A safe deposit box is a great place to store important documents and small valuables. Instead of reinventing the wheel and creating an ultra-secure (fireproof, theft-resistant, water-resistant) location in your house, let the experts handle it. Banks store your items at a very low cost, and you just need to get to the branch during banking hours to retrieve your belongings.
You need to keep important documents which you rarely need to do anything with safe. These documents could be birth certificates, social security cards, copies or originals of certain agreements, and other documents. If they are just an accident waiting to happen, why not put them in a facility that can do a good job of keeping them safe?
A drawback of safe deposit boxes is that you might need something when the bank branch is closed. To avoid problems, don’t store anything that you might need on short notice, such as passports and medical care directives.
Some agreements need to be notarised. That means a Notary Public needs to verify your identity and watch you sign the document. The notary certifies that it was really you who signed the document and that you did so willingly (among other things).
By definition, an online bank can’t really offer this in-person service. But many banks can—often for free (at least one or two signatures might be free) but you will pay a fee if you have got a pile of papers).
As with many services at brick-and-mortar branches, getting a document notarised is not something you need every day. But it is extremely important on those occasions when you do need it. Alternatively, you can use a local (or mobile) Notary Public to handle any one-off signatures.
A place for your coins
What are you supposed to do with all of those coins that end up in your coin jar? Those coins are money, so it is worth putting them into a form that is easy to use—whether you spend the money or use it for savings.
Shipping coins to an online-only bank is not feasible (and it is probably not even allowed). You could pay to have it counted at a machine in the grocery store, but plenty of banks still accept coin deposits without taking a chunk of your savings. They might even let you bring in a mixed jar of coins and do all of the sorting and counting for you.
Face to face meetings
We live in a virtual world, and tasks are getting easier and easier to accomplish online. Traveling to handle a simple transaction in-person is tedious, and can even be a major inconvenience.
That said, there are times when it is nice to sit down with somebody face to face. Communication over the phone or Internet is not always clear, and sometimes it feels better (and might even be faster) to talk and look at things together. Typing out questions and answers has its place, but it is not always the best solution.