As its name implies, a safety deposit box helps keep your valuables safe. You may or may not have one of these at your nearest bank.
Safety deposit boxes cost around $23 to $300 per year. The price depends on factors such as size, bank, and location. For example, the safety deposit box cost Chase offers for a 3” x 5” (8 x 13 cm) box will differ from the safety deposit box cost Wells Fargo offers.
The following section will elaborate on the average safety deposit box cost according to bank and size. I will also talk about instances where you can get a safety deposit box for free, what you can and can’t put in a safety deposit box, and how to choose a safety deposit box according to size.
How Much Does a Safety Deposit Box Cost?
Safety deposit box prices vary depending on the size of the box and the bank. Also, the cost of a safety deposit box of the same size and bank can differ depending on the branch. For example, the Bank of America deposit annual box fee for a 3” x 5” (8 x 13 cm) in New York, NY, may not be the same as a box of a similar size in a BoA branch in Los Angeles, CA.
Based on publicly available information, I have compiled the following data on average safety deposit box prices according to size and bank. As noted, the cost can vary depending on the branch, so the figures cited here won’t necessarily match your nearest bank’s fees to a T.
|3” x 5”(8 x 13 cm)||5” x 5”(13 x 13 cm)||3” x 10”(8 x 25 cm)||5” x 10”(13 x 25 cm)||10” x 10”(25 x 25 cm)|
|Bank of America||$75||$125*||$150||unknown||$300|
Now that you know how much safety deposit boxes cost, you may want to see whether it’s possible to get them for free. I will answer that question in the next section.
Does Anyone Offer a Free Safe Deposit Box?
Certain depositors are eligible for a free safety deposit box. If a depositor belongs to a specific tier (which usually depends on the size of their deposit), they may get discounts or even a complimentary box altogether. Members of groups like the military and senior citizens may also enjoy free or discounted rental fees.
Banks that offer discounted or free safety deposit boxes include:
- Bank of America
- BMO Harris Bank
- Chase Bank
- Fifth Third Bank
- M&T Bank
- Santander Bank
- SunTrust Bank
- U.S. Bank
Below, I will discuss banks that offer deals for their safety deposit boxes.
Bank of America
Platinum and Platinum Honors tier members have a waiver on their Bank of America safe deposit box fee, as long as it’s for “small” safety deposit boxes. The website doesn’t specify how small the safety deposit box is, though.
BMO Harris Bank
If you have a BMO Harris PremierTM Account, you don’t have an annual rental fee for a 3” x 5” (8 x 13 cm) safe deposit box.
Safety deposit boxes for BB&T Elite@Work Checking accounts are free up to 3” x 5” (8 x 13 cm) and have a $40 discount on other sizes.
The safety deposit box cost Chase offers its Premier Plus CheckingSM account holders is zero, as long as the box is 3” x 5” (8 x 13 cm) or smaller. In addition, they can get a 20 percent discount on larger box sizes.
Fifth Third Bank
Fifth Third Preferred Checking® holders can waive their annual fee for safety deposit boxes 3” x 5” and smaller and enjoy discounts for larger boxes.
If you’re a MyChoice Premium Checking account holder at M&T, and your safety deposit box has a $50 or less rental fee, you can waive that fee. Alternatively, if your safety deposit box costs more than $50, you can get a maximum discount of $200 on your annual rental price.
Santander Select Checking account holders can have the smallest available safety deposit box for free. If they’re using larger boxes, they may also enjoy a 50 percent discount provided the account is auto-debit.
All Advantage Checking account holders at SunTrust bank have $25 off their safety deposit box fees of any size, subject to the boxes’ availability.
At U.S. Bank, Platinum Checking account holders, military service members (current and former), and those aged 65 and older enjoy a 50 percent discount off their annual safety deposit box rental fee.
If you’re interested in getting a safety deposit box from any bank, make sure to contact that bank first. Otherwise, you might scramble to keep things in your safety deposit box, only to realize that such boxes aren’t available in your nearest bank.
So what items are acceptable to put in a safety deposit box?
What Can You Put in a Safety Deposit Box?
If you want to put anything into a safety deposit box, it should be something valuable that you’re not going to need in the near future. It should also be something you can insure and replace.
Things you can put into a safety deposit box include:
- Vital records
- School / military records
- Titles for your house and car
- Physical proof of stock ownership
- Duplicate copies of legal documents
- Flash drives
- Other sensitive documents
Below, I’ll explain why keeping the above documents in a safety deposit box is a good idea.
Vital records include:
- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificates
- Divorce certificates
- Death certificates
You can obtain duplicate copies of these from the government, but it’s more cost-effective to tuck them away in a safe place until you need them.
School / Military Records
Like your vital records, school and military records are essential documents, but you don’t necessarily need them now. If you can’t access your safety deposit box for any reason, you can get copies of these from the institution where you received them.
But don’t store jewelry that you use every day. Get your jewelry appraised, pick the ones that are most likely to be valuable, and protect them further with a personal articles floater attached to your insurance policy.
Do you have a coin, rock, or other valuable collectibles passed down from generation to generation? Stash them away in your safety deposit box, and protect them with a personal articles floater.
Titles for Your House and Car
The only time you’ll need house and car titles is when you’re about to sell the properties those titles are attached to. Still, both of them are valuable documents, and you want to keep them in a safe place until you need them.
Physical Proof of Stock Ownership
Unless you’re a high-volume trader or your investments are primarily online, you may still have paper copies of stock and bond certificates. In that case, it’s a good idea to store these in your safety deposit box too.
Duplicate Copies of Legal Documents
Legal documents include:
- Powers of Attorney
- Articles of Incorporation
- Business contracts
Make sure you create duplicates of these documents, however.
If you’re tech-savvy, your sensitive documents may be in electronic format. Assuming you don’t need those documents any time soon, you can stash away the flash drive containing them too.
Other Sensitive Documents
Are there any documents not listed above you don’t want family members to know? A safety deposit box can be the answer to your problems.
Now you know what you can put in a safety deposit box. What about the stuff you can’t store in a safety deposit box?
What Can’t You Put in a Safety Deposit Box?
Don’t put anything in a safety deposit box that you’ll need asap. Also, don’t store anything that can’t be insured or duplicated. Remember that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) doesn’t insure safety deposit boxes.
Things you shouldn’t put in a safety deposit box include:
- Identity documents
- Lone copies of legal documents
- Uninsured valuables
- Contraband items
Let me explain why the above shouldn’t go into a safety deposit box.
It’s better to stash cash in a place that you can access easily, like your ATM or wallet.
Passports, driver’s licenses, social security cards, and the like shouldn’t be in a safety deposit box. You need these documents almost every day, and storing them in a place you can’t open easily is a bad idea.
Lone Copies of Legal Documents
Don’t keep the original copy of your will in the safety deposit box. Otherwise, you may encounter a catch-22 situation where a probate court cannot appoint an executor without the will, but only the executor can access the will inside the safety deposit box.
Again, items in safety deposit boxes aren’t insured. If you stash away jewelry and collectibles without insuring them first, and a disaster strikes the bank, you will have difficulty replacing the precious items lost.
Firearms, illicit drugs, and other items you’re not legally allowed to have shouldn’t be anywhere near a safety deposit box.
How To Choose the Best Size Safety Deposit Box
At this point, you’re all set on having a safety deposit box. So how do you choose one?
To choose the best size safety deposit box, remember these tips:
- Consider whether your item should be in a safe deposit box.
- Measure the item you will store in the safety deposit box.
- Shop for the best safety deposit box rates in your area.
- Ask the bank if there’s a limit to how much you can store.
Let’s go into more detail about choosing the best size safety deposit box.
Consider Whether Your Item Should Be in a Safe Deposit Box
Earlier, I talked about what you can and can’t keep in a safety deposit box. If your answer to most or all of the questions below is “Yes,” it’s safe to stash that item away.
- Is the item valuable?
- Is the item insured?
- Is the item replaceable?
- Are you not likely to use that item in the near future?
- Are you legally allowed to own that item?
Measure the Item You Will Store in the Safety Deposit Box
Safety deposit boxes come in five basic sizes:
- 3” x 5” (8 x 13 cm)
- 5” x 5” (13 x 13 cm)
- 3” x 10” (8 x 25 cm)
- 5” x 10” (13 x 25 cm)
- 10” x 10” (25 x 25 cm)
Based on your item’s size, which box do you think fits the best? For paper documents, you can discern what size you need. For other things, use a tape measure or ruler to measure the item’s length, width, and height and see which box you can comfortably keep it in.
Shop for the Best Safety Deposit Box Rates in Your Area
Call your nearest bank and ask whether they offer safety deposit boxes. If their answer to the question is “Yes,” ask them what kind of account you should have to get a complimentary box or discounted rental fees. Consider whether the overall costs of maintaining that account are worth the savings from the safety deposit box.
Ask the Bank if There’s a Limit to How Much You Can Store
Banks aren’t going to let you stuff your safety deposit box to the brim. Consider how much you can keep inside the box. Ask the bank if they impose a maximum value for items inside their safety deposit boxes.
If you have a lot of valuables, a safety deposit box might be worth looking into. After all, it functions as an extension of your home, where you keep things that matter to you.
On the other hand, remember to weigh the pros and cons of a safety deposit box. It can either be your best investment or your worst idea. Choose carefully!
For more, check out How to Store Large Amounts of Cash (With Locations to Avoid).
Hey, I’m Jim, and I’m the author of this website. I have been teaching people a wide variety of survivalism topics for over five years and have a lifetime of experience fishing, camping, general survivalism, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up, I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!