20 Secrets Your Bank Teller Won’t Tell You

We talked to bank tellers, branch managers, and other banking officials to find out more about the place where you keep your money.

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It takes us three days to post checks to your account.

It takes us three days to post checks to your account.Stockbyte/Thinkstock
Just because you deposited a check today doesn’t mean you can start living it up tomorrow. (And why should we hurry? If you bounce a check, we collect around $30.)

Make sure you have the right loss and theft protection.

Make sure you have the right loss and theft protection.Siri Stafford/Thinkstock
If you’re using your ATM card for debit transactions, ask your bank what kind of protection it offers if the card is stolen or lost. Thousands of dollars could be pulled from your checking account and, in many cases, you wouldn’t be nearly as protected as you would be with a stolen credit card.

Beware of the universal default clause.

Beware of the universal default clause.Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Before you sign up for a bank-issued credit card, ask if it has a “universal default clause”—also known as “the ultimate poison clause in credit cards.” If it does, run for the nearest exit. It allows the bank to look through all your credit accounts, and if it sees that you’re late paying a bill on another card, it gets to jack up the interest rate on its card.

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Online banking...

Online banking...Scott Barbour/Getty Images
...is pretty safe, but it could be better, according to researchers at the University of Michigan. They studied 214 financial-institution websites and found design flaws in 76 percent of them, including banks redirecting users to less-secure sites.

Not everyone is allowed to do a teller's job.

Not everyone is allowed to do a teller's job.Ryan McVay/Thinkstock
Yes, we know the line is long and only one teller window is open, but no, the guy in the cubicle can’t come over to help out. 

Call or visit in person to resolve a problem.

Call or visit in person to resolve a problem.Ryan McVay/Thinkstock
Filling out online forms will usually get you the by-the-book reply, but a rep will often forgive a fee over the phone so we can all just get on with our lives.

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We know you hate itemized penalties.

We know you hate itemized penalties.Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock
A consumer’s brain registers an immediate “Ouch!” whenever he’s hit with an itemized penalty, such as a bounced-check fee, so most people keep a much higher balance in their checking accounts than necessary, says personal-finance writer Jason Zweig. “Banks make a ton of money off this mental quirk since they would have to pay interest on the money if we left it in our savings accounts, where it belongs.”

A bank has the right to pay itself back.

A bank has the right to pay itself back.Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock
Any fees or overdraft loans that you owe can be deducted from your next deposit.

You probably don't need to pay fees.

You probably don't need to pay fees.Stockbye/Thinkstock
You can get practically any fee waived if you ask, especially if you’re a longtime customer.

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Our tellers routinely press you into opening new accounts.

Our tellers routinely press you into opening new accounts.Ryan McVay/Thinkstock
Their jobs depend on it. Banks hire “mystery” customers who secretly test whether a teller is cross-selling services.

If the check bounces, you're liable.

If the check bounces, you're liable.iStockphoto/Thinkstock
Postdating a check rarely works. With stacks of deposits to process, we look at account names, not dates. 

Don't blame us.

Don't blame us.Purestock/Thinkstock
It’s not our fault you can’t control your spending. “The bank didn’t make you swipe your card or write a check that you didn’t have money for,” says one teller in Akron, Ohio.

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Small business loans are hard to get.

Small business loans are hard to get.Brand X Picture/Thinkstock
Unless you’re Wolfgang Puck, our loan officers have pretty much decided before you walk in that you’re not getting a loan for your dream bistro. But they’ll let you apply for one anyway. We’re not crazy about lending to nonprofits and houses of worship either. We don’t want the bad publicity when we go after them.

Please don't haul in plastic bags of loose change.

Please don't haul in plastic bags of loose change.iStockphoto/Thinkstock
We really don’t have the time or manpower to count it. Ask for free wrappers and bring in rolled coins next time.

Keep receipts for every ATM transaction.

Keep receipts for every ATM transaction.Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock
And please don’t feed cash directly into the machine without first putting it into an envelope—unless you know you're at one of the ATMs that accepts loose bills. (Yes, people actually do this.)

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Banks don't always promote their highest interest rate accounts.

Banks don't always promote their highest interest rate accounts.Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock
Why tell you about those when you’re already willing to sign up for an account that pays less?

Read the fine print.

Read the fine print.Ryan McVay/Thinkstock
Ask us to explain the terms, and get the details in writing before you sign anything.

Beware of overdraft fees.

Beware of overdraft fees.Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Many banks will permit you to withdraw more money than you have on deposit at the ATM, but they’ll charge you about $34 for the privilege.

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A small thought about business loans:

A small thought about business loans:Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock
You have to admit that applying for a business loan and calling yourself a “financial consultant” sounds a little shady.

Free toasters are a thing of the past.

Free toasters are a thing of the past.Fuse/Thinkstock
Sorry, we can’t afford to give them anymore to new customers. Business is brutal.

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51 thoughts on “20 Secrets Your Bank Teller Won’t Tell You

  1. I work at one of the biggest banks in the nation and my branch doesn’t have a coin counter. We won’t accept it unless it’s rolled. I’ve petitioned for a counter but am met with a resounding no.

  2. MOST banks will not accept wrapped coins. They will ask you to please unwrap them so you can put them in the coin counter. Was this written in the early 90’s or something? Most of it seems outdated or just plan wrong.

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  4. Can a bank teller give out my account information such as balance, deposits, and info about my taxes, to some one who claims I owe them money?

  5. Wow. It appears that either Neena Samuel was misimformed on a great deal of information or her interpretion is completely warped. What a useless article.

  6. I work in one of the largest banks in the country. We allow the first one hundred dollars of a check to be available immediately. It takes about 5 days for the bank to collect the funds on a check. If we can not collect the funds-bad check- we will take the funds right back out of your account. So be confident about where you got that check and who it is from. If you weren’t expecting it, be wary.Rolled coin- hell no. bring it in a bucket, a bowl, whatever you got, but not rolled, We have a counter for that. By the way, when you forget your deposit slip, or checks at home…..fill out your own. You are not the only client. Do you know how many deposit slips we fill out? How many checks? Its annoying as hell and its not our job to fill those out. It also takes up alot of our time. Fees- dont spend it if you dont have it.You can not beat the bank. Everything is computerized and time stamped. Posted balance+what you had. Available balance= what you have minus any checks you wrote. The ATM is a machine and sees your posted balance and will allow you to overdraw, so keep track of your spending. Banks will usually have some sort of fee forgiveness, as accidents happen, just ask.. Higher yielding accounts are usually reserved for the wealthy, we do not push them as many folks are not wealthy.
    We do not add up your checks for deposit. We check that they are signed and made out to you. If you are wrong, the corrections department will correct your addition. Do keep your receipts. Do not put money in an ATM that requires an envelope, we cannot see the account print on the bills. If you are at an ATM yapping on your phone and your money gets sucked back in….. you waited to long. Going into the bank complaining makes you look like an idiot, which we already know. We can not go out to the ATM and just give you money or your card. You will have to wait till the custodian comes to report the overage or retrieve your card.
    The Bank is NOT your overdraft protection. You open a savings account for that. We do not pay every bad check you write. Banks are a business, not a charity.

  7. #11 is not entirely true. Notify the bank in writing, and they will be at fault. Let’s say you have to give the rent check in early. UCC 4-401 (c)

  8. Um…actually, please bring in your bags of loose coins! Too much fraud (39 quarters looks pretty much like 40 quarters in a $10 roll) means any bank with a coin counter (and most have them) will have to unwrap all your rolled coins and manually dump them into the counter. We certainly don’t have the time or manpower for that! Just give me your Crown Royal bag (why is it always a Crown Royal bag?) and let me dump them myself.

    1. Because it’s always waiters or former waiters and they get them from the bar when new bottles are opened and use them to hold bills and change. Super convenient in your apron.

  9. #21–but’s not a “secret”…banks are CRIMINAL institutions whose employees are largely officious-cunt-retards. Banks exist for only ONE reason, and that’s to STEAL your money. Every time I hear about a bank robbery–especially a violent one in which “bankers” are shot and dismembered or killed–I CELEBRATE!

    1. Wow thanks for wishing violent death upon me because I am trying to pay for college.

  10. “Please don’t haul in plastic bags of loose change.”
    You are a bank. All you do is handle money. This is money I want deposited in my account. Don’t tell me you can’t be bothered to count it.

  11. I work for the largest bank in the country and have worked for smaller ones. This article is stupid. The bank does not care if you have been a customer 1 month or 30 years, unfortunately you will be treated the same, even when it comes to fees. They use a computer program in order to determine how many time you have overdrawn within 6mo-12mo period.

    The branches are manly focused on sales not service. So you are most likely going to get referred to customer service. The branch manager is now a younger individual who’s main objective is being a sales manager. Most do not have banking experience at all.

  12. Your advice to only bring in wrapped coins is incorrect. There very well may be banks out there that will not accept large amounts of loose coins, but many others will not accept WRAPPED coins, as there’s no telling what might be inside the rolls – foreign coins, non-coin objects, etc. Just check with your bank before taking the time to roll your coins.

  13. “Please don’t bring in loose bags of change”? Most banks I’ve been to refuse or unwrap the coin rolls and put the loose change through a change counting machine.. Or point you to the one that’s in the lobby.

  14. as a bank worker in various capacities for the past 6+ years, i want to let people know that their bank’s call center can do NO MORE for you than your local bank branch, if they tell you different at the branch they are lying to get you to go away. that and they are not NEARLY as trained as the call center people but sadly, they ARE capable of FAR MORE than the call center. another thing is, we hate checks. we want you to use your debit card or online billpay. we do not feel sorry for you if your check doesn’t make it to where it was supposed to go just because you are “old fashioned”. in fact we roll our eyes and go GET WITH IT!! everyone has access to a computer, whether at the library or a family member’s. checks cost money, billpay is often free. and guaranteed by the bank to get the funds where they need to go or the bank could absorb any fees you may incur. one more thing, if you overdraft and we look thru your spending history and see a bunch of restaurants, online purchases, or other “junk” we are not as inclined to waive the fee. we are thinking, get ahold of yourself and show some restraint and responsibility as an adult or pay the consequences. please remember all this before you contact your bank.

    1. How typical. Bet you’re one of the bottom feeders at Wells Fargo, huh?

  15. not very helpful. Want a few helpful hints.1)read documents before you sign them! It’s amazing how many people sign documents and don’t read them first. 2)Ask question about account options(including fees) BEFORE you open the account. While bank personnel are trained to sell you products, the training is only as good as the employee that follows through with providing the information. If they are slackers, you will lose out if you don’t ask questions & ask for a written comparison of the different account types they offer. Choose the one that is best for you, not the one they are being paid to promote that week. 3) Regulations are getting tighter for all banks regarding fees and notice of funds availability. If you don’t really understand why all of your deposit is not available right away, ask ‘Why?’ & if your deposit includes a payroll check, let the teller know. If they can verify, the holds are not always placed for the same amount of time as non-payroll checks.

  16. Bring in loose coin! Our credit union has to unroll each one and run them thru the coin counter, while you are standing there, before we can credit the total to your account. A waste of your time and money to roll them. Most of the items above are plain ridiculous! At least for a credit union, not sure about banks….

    1. My bank will not allow coin unwrapped or else a teller would have to waste their time counting each coin.

  17. “It takes us three days to post checks to your account.”

    Leger posted, yes, but it is memo posted immediately. Keep in mind that it will take that long or longer for purchases to be leger posted, so it means that you CAN spend that check immediately. I was a teller for 2 years, so I know exactly what I’m talking about.

    1. Actually it’s not a good idea to start spending the money before the check is actually available in the account. More and more business are posting payments electronically and can clear your account as soon as that day. I was a teller and branch trainer for 4 years. . .

      1. My money is always available as soon as I leave the bank. I can even take it right back out of the ATM as I walk out of the bank. It shows as pending but is available and as long as it is pending they do not charge any overdraft fees if payments come through because they know the money is there. Even if a payment comes out and overdraws my account they do not charge as long as I put money in the bank that day. So if they process a check at 8 am and it overdraws my account $50 but I make a $50 deposit later that day I am ok. The teller explained they put in a memo that says I have the money so I have complete access to all funds as soon as I deposit my check. It must just depend on the banks policies. Seems some banks just want to find any way they can to charge fees.

  18. Don’t bring rolled coins into a Suntrust Bank, they probably won’t accept them. They want the coins loose in a bag and they will give them to the Brinks guys to count and credit your account.

  19. #11 is NOT true, tellers do look at the dates, that’s the first thing in DAMPER that you check. whoever made this list, obviously wasn’t a teller lol

  20. What’s up with Winnacunnet being a place where stupid people come from. I’ve seen better intelligence from a deriagic donkey and i’m not talking about you John Griffin

  21. Brandon Gnecco loves John Griffin. They have sleep overs at each others house.

  22. John Griffin, you have to be the most unintelligent, most unreliable, most grusome, human being on this planet. I dont know what a “Winnacunnet” is. But i will find you, and terminate you.

  23. haha yeah cause banks are suppose to give out free toasters ahahahahhaha please shut that mouth

  24. As a teller, I would like to know what bank they conducted these “investigations” at. What bank refuses money because it isn’t it nice wrapped coin containers? What bank doesnt have a coin counter? As for banks waiving fees for customers calling in or visiting the office, yeah, that can happen, but if the fees are a recurring problem it won’t be happening anymore. And banks not giving you the highest rates on acounts and CD’s? That’s a bold faced lie. We want the money to work FOR you. I believe that goes for most financial institutions, especially in this economy, because, low and behold, our paychecks do depend on keeping the customer around.

      1. I work for a small, local bank. We do have coin counters and ask people who bring in rolled coin to unwrap it and run it through the sorter.

    1. Regions Bank and Suntrust Bank. I worked in both of these banks, and both of these banks refused loose change.

    2. Rachel, US Bank refused to accept $1.30 in dimes because it was not as the teller put it (strapped). This occurred 1/25/15.

  25. This is the worst compillation ever. Banks don’t give out free toasters anymore? Really? Someone should put THAT in an article. Give me a break. How about some tips that are actually useful?

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