What is a Safe Deposit Box & Why do I Need One?

Safe deposit boxes are protected by multiple levels of security to keep your valuables secure and give you peace of mind

Think about the small things that are important to you. You might have your grandmother’s engagement ring or your great grandfather’s gold watch. A coin collection. Original photos of your great aunt as an Army nurse during the war. No insurance policy could ever replace these things if they were lost or stolen.

Where do you keep them? A jewelry box on your dresser, your sock drawer, or a cardboard box out in the shed?

There is a more secure option. Ask your local bank branch about a safe deposit box. Safe deposit boxes and their cousins, express storage boxes, are secure storage containers offered by many banks.


Watch video (0:44) to see what you should—and should not—keep in a safe deposit box

When you rent a safe deposit box, the bank gives you a metal container in which to place your valuables. Most banks offer a variety of sizes. Once you have placed your belongings in the box, you place it into a safe protected by two locks. The bank keeps a key for one, and you get the key for the other. It takes both keys to retrieve the box and the items within it.

Both the safety and the security within the bank branch itself help protect your box from theft or loss. This enhanced security makes safe deposit boxes a great place to store original copies of important documents like birth certificates or property deeds. You can also take photographs of valuable items in your home to document them for insurance purposes.

Just remember: You can only open the box during banking hours, so do not store things you might need in the middle of the night or on short notice, like your powers of attorney or passport. Additionally, because only you can open the box, do not store anything someone else might need to retrieve for you, like an advance healthcare directive or a will.

Locate a branch near you to open a safe deposit box »

Keep Your Key

  • Keep your safe deposit box key in a safe location where you will remember it. If you lose your key, you will not be able to open your safe deposit box and the bank may have to drill it open for a fee.