It’s a tough time doing your banking if you’d rather go to a branch. Opening hours have been reduced at many establishments, and social distancing guidelines mean bank lobbies limit traffic – assuming they’re open.
For customers who absolutely need to go to a branch, banks take measures to prevent this from happening The spread of COVID-19. Sean Potter of Minneapolis, who writes for my blog at My Money Wizard, saw these precautions during a recent meeting at his local bank. “It was awkward because I had a guest relations manager appointment, and we still had to maintain five feet of distance, even though we had to go through the same documents together,” he says.
Potter appreciates that the branch has tried to keep it safe, but says it is now considering other ways to do its banking. “From now on, it will be online or over the phone,” he says.
Here are some ways to do your banking without leaving home, as well as some safety tips if you must venture into a physical branch.
Explore options online
A lot of banking can be done at the click of a button. Most banks and credit unions have robust websites and apps that you can use for a variety of banking tasks.
- Check deposit. With mobile check deposit, you can take a picture of a paper check and send it online, through your bank’s secure website or app.
- Pay the bills. With online bill payment, you log into your bank’s web page and enter the recipient’s name and contact information. Your bank takes care of the rest by making an electronic fund transfer or sending a paper check.
- Ask to open an account. open a new account A checking or savings account (eg revolution) can be as simple as going to your bank’s website and placing an order online. To apply, have your driver’s license handy to prove your identity.
- Sign documents. Some organizations use digital services such as DocuSign to prepare documents, including account opening and loan documents. These documents can be securely sent to you via email, and you can sign them by clicking on the highlighted prompts.
- Request assistance with payment. Need some leeway to pay off your loan? Some banks allow customers to request arrangements online, including delaying bill due dates, temporarily reducing monthly payments, or asking for fees to be waived.
Or pick up the phone
Keep your bank’s customer service number handy. You can use it to talk to a real person about questions or issues with your account.
For example, some banks have announced that customers can call and request a waiver of NSF fees, overdraft fees, and monthly service fees.
But remember this: If you’re facing high fees, it may be best to switch to a cheaper bank. Online-only organizations, for example, tend to charge low or no monthly service fees, and some offer toll-free customer service numbers that can be reached 24/7.
Perform banking transactions securely in a branch
If you still have to go to a bank branch, here are some ways to protect yourself.
- Put it on the calendar. Before heading to your local branch, it’s a good idea to call and set up an appointment. This helps agencies manage occupancy requirements and social distancing. By calling ahead, the bank can also ensure that there is an employee who can assist you with a transaction or a specialist request.
- Consider driving thru. Some banks have access corridors where customers can enjoy the same services offered at a branch, such as cash deposits, withdrawals and money orders, all at a safe distance from other people. You can also withdraw cash from the on-site ATM without having to deal with a teller.
- Bring your protective gear. Since you will be touching screens, doorknobs, and other public surfaces, consider bringing hand sanitizer or wearing gloves. If you must enter the lobby, you may be required to wear a mask to protect everyone.