With the vast majority of major banks pulling out of the safe deposit box service, independent or private safe deposit box facilities are becoming the only option for most people who require this service. However, there are still a limited number of banks that offer a safe-keeping service, so we thought it important to point out the differences between a bank offering the service and a private vault offering the service.
Banks will usually only offer a safe-keeping service to customers who have accounts with the bank. Banks traditionally keep a huge amount of private information on all customers. This means the bank will have knowledge that you have a safe deposit box and would have the ability to restrict your access to your box, should you run into arrears or difficulties with the bank on any of your accounts.
Private Vaults will usually only look for valid Photo ID and proof of address to rent a safe deposit box with them. This means they do not have access to any of your financial details and also that ultimately the only person who knows you have a safe deposit box is you.
Banks will only normally give you access to your safe deposit box during branch opening hours – which are very limited and only Mon-Friday in most cases.
Private Vaults will usually give you 7-day access with longer and later opening hours midweek.
- OWNERSHIP & REGULATION:
Bank regulation is a form of government regulation which subjects banks to certain requirements, restrictions and guidelines. This means that in reality the government could sieze/force close and bank and all of the assets contained within it’s branches….including the contents of your safe deposit box.
Private Vaults will usually be self-regulated, with reputable vaults also being members of an industry Federation or Association. The safest private vaults will also be fully underwritten and insured by established underwriters such as Lloyds of London (or similar). This means that the government cannot simply seize premises and contents at will.
- BOX SIZE & CHOICE:
Banks will normally offer a very limited size and choice of boxes with a choice of small boxes or large boxes – the pricing of which can be a choice between affordable and very expensive – with little option in-between.
Private Vaults will usually offer a great selection in box sizes (around 10 different sizes) with a safe deposit box size to suit all budgets.
Bank vaults, believe it or not, would not have the extensive security procedures in place that most private vaults would.
Private Vaults will usually have more access control security procedures in-place including Bio-metric fingerprint readers, facial-recognition software and live-security monitoring.
- BETTER CLIENT ACCESS:
Banks may require advance notice and/or may require clients to have Photo ID on each visit. Some banks may even restrict the number of times per year/month on which you can access your safe deposit box.
Private Vaults will normally only require you to have your access card/fob with you for entry to your box. There is generally no advance notice required and most will offer unlimited access to your box for the duration of your rental period.
- CONTENTS OF BOX:
Banks do not allow clients to store cash in their safe deposit box – this will be in their T&C’s in most cases.
Private Vaults will allow clients to store cash in their safe deposit box – in fact, whatever is stored in private vault safe deposit boxes is usually kept completely private and known only to the customer.
Banks do not offer insurance on your safe deposit box – most will request that the contents of the box are placed on the clients own home insurance policy. This will not only mean there is no insurance cover on the box and contents, but may also mean an increase on your home insurance policy cost.
Private Vaults usually offer full insurance cover for your safe deposit box and it’s contents. This can quite often lead to a lower premium on home insurance policies as ‘specified items’ can be removed from your home insurance policy once they are stored in your safe deposit box.
Having weighed up the pro’s & con’s of both, the decision will ultimately rest on which offering suits your requirements best. However, Private Vaults who obviously specialize in the business of safe-keeping, will generally be the better option for most.
If you would like to find out more about renting your own private safe deposit box in the UK or Ireland please see our list of member vaults on this site.