Safety Deposit Boxes


It used to be that safety deposit boxes are the first choice when people need to keep their valuables safe. After all, safe deposit boxes are designed to protect items from burglars and thieves. Is there anything more safe than keeping things locked shut and tight inside a safety deposit box? Unfortunately, it’s been proven throughout the years that there are a lot more options that can be safer.

The subpar protection provided by safe deposit boxes is proven by their loss of popularity. It is said that many boxes in the United States are empty and unused, and banks are now working to phase safety deposit boxes out in favor of more secure solutions. Even big reputable banks like Wells Fargo are starting to move away from safety deposit boxes. But their obsolescence is not the only reason why safety deposit boxes are not advisable in this day and age.

Banks often change hands between different companies

Over time, bank branches may be sold off, moved, merged, closed down, etc., so they’re not always where they used to be. Sometimes local banks close down, sell off their assets, or merge into larger ones. The same can happen to big banks as well. If this happens, then the physical space changes hands for good. It includes the vaults and safety deposit boxes within them.

If a new bank acquires an existing bank, then the contents of safe deposit boxes at the acquired bank become part of the acquisition, which means the owners of the safety deposit boxes can get locked out of their own boxes. There are cases when the boxes themselves get moved, so the original owners can no longer get them back.

Banks can make mistakes

Some safe deposit boxes aren’t well taken care of. If something goes missing when an item is taken from its original place, then there’s a chance that it might be gone forever. Depending on what you put into it, that could cost you anything between a hundred to millions of dollars in valuables.

Banks have protections in place to help them avoid liability for their actions

Banks usually require you to agree to their terms and conditions before they’ll let you open an account. Arbitration means that disputes between two parties must go through an arbitrator instead of going straight to court. It limits bank liability by requiring them to pay out less than they would

A bigger problem? Banks usually hire the arbitration service providers you’re required to use. They’re clearly biased, so their advice isn’t likely to help you out.

There aren’t any legal protections for safe deposit box renters

You’re at risk for losing your valuables even when they’re stored properly. Those annoying terms and conditions you’re required to agree to when buying anything online really limit your options if things go wrong. You lose your right to sue the bank if you sign an agreement requiring you to arbitrate any disputes instead of going through court. Besides, banks have more resources than individuals to fight against arbitrations.

A Better, Safer Alternative to Safety Deposit Boxes

If you really need to protect your valuables, and don’t want to have problems down the line, your best option is to get your own vault or safe. Safes have a number of benefits over safety deposit boxes, such as :

They’re easier to access

Safes are much easier to access than safes. You don’t need to drive down to the bank and you can access them anytime you want, instead of being subject to the bank’s schedule. You have full control over when and where you can access your valuables. And the best part is that you’re the only one who can get to them.

They’re more secure

Safes are designed to keep items safe from thieves. They’re also better at keeping items safe from fire and other disasters, depending on the model you get.

They’re cheaper

Safes are generally much cheaper than safety deposit boxes. You’ll probably end up paying less money for a safe than you will for a safety deposit box. And it is a one time payment. Once you buy a safe and get it installed by a professional, then you’re set for a long time. A safety deposit box, on the other hand, would require a recurring payment. This makes safety deposit boxes ridiculously expensive compared to a safe box.

They’re easier to store

Safes take up far less space than safety deposit boxes do. So you won’t have to worry about having too many of them around. Plus, they’re easy to move from location to location. This is impressive given that safes offer far more storage space than a bank’s safety deposit box. If you need to store guns, large items, stacks of documents and large amounts of jewelry, a safety deposit box would not be enough. Whereas even an average sized safe can store large items. There are also safes designed for specific items, such as gun safes that are meant to protect your guns and ammunition.

The Bottom Line

Safety deposit boxes are great for storing small amounts of cash and jewelry. And they’re not so safe as you thought, considering the variety of problems that can occur through no fault of your own but the bank’s. But if you need something larger, a safe is a safer bet. If you’re looking to protect your valuables, the safest way is to get your own safe or vault.