I Do Most of My Banking Online. But Here's Why I Still Keep Money at a Physical Bank

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KEY POINTS

  • Online banks tend to offer higher interest rates than physical banks.
  • Despite that and other benefits, it can pay to hang onto an account at a brick-and-mortar establishment.
  • I like having access to an ATM and to a safe deposit box, plus my bank has a notary service.

I can't cut ties completely.

I've been doing my banking online for a long time now. Not only do I have an online savings account, but I also have an online checking account and several certificates of deposit.

What I like about online banking is the higher interest rates I tend to get on the money I keep in those accounts. Because online banks have less overhead than physical banks, they tend to pass that savings onto customers in the form of higher rates. And also, I find my online bank's platform to be super easy to use, so when I need to pay bills or set up recurring payments, it's a quick process.

But even though I do the bulk of my banking online these days, I still make a point to keep an account open at a brick-and-mortar bank in town. Here's why.

1. I need the ATM access

While there are many things my online bank can do, one thing it can't do is allow me to withdraw physical cash I hold in my hand. In fact, my online bank doesn't have a great network of ATMs where I live. But because I keep an account open at a brick-and-mortar bank, I don't have to worry about accessing cash when I need it.

2. I rely on a safe deposit box

My husband and I have a number of key documents we need to keep in a secure location at all times. These include things like the deed to our home and our marriage license. My online bank clearly doesn't offer the option to open a safe deposit box, but our local brick-and-mortar bank does. And while we do pay a fee for that box, it's worth it because it gives us peace of mind that our important documents are protected.

3. I can use the notary services

As a small business owner, I find that I tend to need a notary more often than the average person. That's something my local bank gives me access to. In fact, being an account holder means I'm not charged for that notary service, so there's some nice savings to be reaped.

4. I want my kids to have the classic bank experience

Although my children are pretty young, they all have bank accounts and understand how they work. In fact, my kids have seen me deposit money into their accounts digitally.

But I like the idea of being able to take my kids to the bank to make a deposit when they receive money as a birthday present, holiday gift, or reward from the Tooth Fairy. That makes the experience a lot more fun for them -- especially since they usually get a lollipop out of the deal.

(Of course, one feature our local bank recently got rid of was its coin sorter. My kids used to love dumping their coins in and seeing how much they'd accumulated. But alas, that's now a thing of the past.)

Online banking may be the wave of the future. But there are still benefits to be reaped by sticking with a physical bank. That's why I don't intend to close my account at my local bank anytime soon -- even as the world goes increasingly digital.

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