Dedicated to Deposits: Deals, Data, and Discussion

Tips and Costs of Bank Safe Deposit Boxes


Last year the FDIC published some useful tips on bank safe deposit boxes including the reminder that FDIC insurance covers only deposit accounts, and not the contents of safe deposit boxes.

A recent article on safe deposit boxes mentioned the typical rental costs of safe deposit boxes to be from $100 to $300. From my experiences you should be able to get a small safe deposit box for much less than this. And don't forget that many credit unions offer safe deposit box rentals. I only pay $12.50/year for a small box at my local credit union.

Another way you can get a deal on a safe deposit box is if you have a premium checking account at a bank. A premium type of checking account can often be free of monthly fees if you have a high enough balance in a CD. A free safe deposit box is a common perk with these checking accounts. However, it's typically only free for a small box. So if you need more space or if the bank doesn't have any more small boxes left, you may still have to pay.

When I opened a 5% 3-year Wachovia CD back in 2008, the banker upgraded my checking account to the premium checking version which qualified me for a free safe deposit box. Since my credit union safe deposit box had a low cost and was more convenient for me, I passed on the deal.

One useful tip mentioned by the FDIC is to use zip-lock bags for contents in a safe deposit box. If flooding occurs, your contents won't get water damaged.

In addition to storing important documents, I also store a backup of my hard drive in the safe deposit box. I don't have many pictures or videos so I'm able to store all my electronic documents on a USB flash drive. Each year, I'll replace the old flash drive with a new flash drive of the latest contents of my hard drive.

Do you have any tips about saving money on safe deposit boxes or what to keep in them?


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Comments
15 comments.
Comment #1 by Midwest (anonymous) posted on
Midwest
Seeing the tornadoes that have passed through this area, we have started to store a credit card and a small amount of cash in the safety deposit box.  And keeping a copy of the safety box key somewhere other than the house.

You mentioned hard drive copy, with the drop in prices of portable external drives, I am looking at buying two drives and rotating them between home and the safety box.  My planning centers around what to do if I come home and home is completely gone.  Or I cannot get into the structure.

4
Comment #2 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
If safety boxes are not covered by insurance so what is the alternative? How can I insure a safety box?

1
Comment #3 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Anonymous at 11:49 --A homeowner's or renter's insurance policy may cover some material contents of a safety deposit box. Check with your insurance agent.

3
Comment #4 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
My safe deposit box is rent free.  It is a perk included in my banking account package.

2
Comment #5 by Cactus (anonymous) posted on
Cactus
And then there are the banks that throw away the contents of safe deposit boxes.

There was one case on San Francisco peninsula about 3-5 years ago. New safe deposit boxes were being installed by a specialized contractor. Bank didn't go though all the old boxes beforehand. Entire banks of boxes were scrapped - with contents. Can't find the story online.

Found this case: On October 6, 2004, DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Limited announced that, during the renovation of its branch in Mei Foo Sun Chuen, in Kowloon, when the bank attempted to remove more than 900 empty safety boxes from the branch, 83 safety boxes rented by customers and containing valuables were accidentally removed. The 83 boxes were subsequently sent to a scrapyard and crushed. The bank reported that 36 boxes were recovered, although the valuables contained inside were badly damaged.

Admittedly, these are freak incidents.

Floods are fairly common, judging by what turned up in my google search.

 

1
Comment #6 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
What should I do if another bank’s customer accidentally opened my safe deposit box with her key??????

2
Comment #8 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Good article but needs some detail orientation. $100 to $300 cost is given. Is that per month or year??

2
Comment #9 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
i pay 100 per month for my S D B well worth it then i charge back on my taxes

1
Comment #10 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
If the bank files for chapter 11 or bankruptcy do you still have access and take your valuables / cash?

1
Comment #11 by pearlbrown posted on
pearlbrown
Re:  Anonymous - #10, Sunday, June 2, 2013 - 2:25 PM

From FDIC.gov  When a bank fails:

When can I have access to my safe deposit box?
When the failed bank's deposits are assumed by a healthy bank, the branch offices usually reopen the next business day. At that time, you will have access to your safe deposit boxes. In the event of a depositor payoff, the FDIC will send a letter to you informing you of the closing. The letter will instruct you on how you can remove the contents of your box. Access to the safe deposit boxes is typically granted to the safe deposit holders the next business day after the closure.

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Comment #12 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I can get a free safe deposit box at my bank but stopped using them when I had a problem getting to my contents after a hurricane.  I needed certain documents so we could leave town but was told I had to wait until the bank was cleaned of damage and debris and that could be several days or more.  We finally got our contents but it was the last time I used a safe deposit box.  It just never occurred to me that natural disasters don't just close stores and businesses, they also close banks.  So I think it is important to always keep any documents you may need if you leave town in a safe place in your own home or apartment.

1
Comment #15 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
You can insure your safe deposit box through a company called SDBIC. There prices are very affordable, I only pay $25 annually. Check them out as they are a much less expensive than I was paying through my homeowners insurance.

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