English in the Real World
English for going to the bank
Internet banking is great. Organising your money from the comfort of your home or office is convenient and really saves time. There are times, however, when it’s better to go to the bank and if you’re living in an English-speaking country or visiting one on vacation, it’s important to know exactly what to say. Use this quick guide to make sure you can do these things next time you go to the bank in English.
Open an account
Before you can save money with a bank, you need to open an account. The main account types are current accounts (UK) or checking accounts (US) which give you instant access to your money or saving accounts where you may need to give more notice if you want to access your money. To open an account, you may need to speak to a personal banker who will help you fill out the forms and check your identification. You might also want to ask about interest rates to see how much you will earn on your savings and bank charges to see how much the account will cost you for doing certain things.
Make a deposit
If you already have a bank account and want to add money to it, you can line up to speak to a teller (US) or cashier (UK). Fill out a paying-in/deposit slip while you are waiting or ask the teller/cashier to help you when it’s your turn. You can say to them “I’d like to pay this into my account” or “I’d like to make a deposit.” If you want to send money to another person’s account, you can say “I’d like to make a wire transfer.” Then give the details of the account you want to send the money to.
To get money from your account, you will need to say “I’d like to withdraw (amount)” or “I’d like to take out (amount).” The teller will often say “How would you like that?” to which you can reply by telling him or her what kind of notes or coins would like: “Could I have that in 10-dollar bills?” (US) / “Could I have that in 10-pound notes?”(UK). It’s often more convenient to use a cash card or debit card to take the money directly from your count using an ATM (Automatic teller machine).
When we are travelling, we often have to exchange money that we have brought with us for another currency. We can do this at the counter of the bank or at a currency exchange (US) / bureau de change (UK). Before you exchange money, ask how much you will get by saying “What’s the exchange rate for pounds to US dollars?” then working out the maths yourself or ask “What is 100 pounds worth in US dollars?” to have the teller work out the exact value for you.
Take out a loan
If you want to borrow money from the bank, you can say to a personal banker “I’d like to take out a loan.” Then you can arrange what interest rate you will pay (the percentage of the money you will be charged for borrowing it) and the term or period of the loan (how long you will have to pay it back). There are three main types of loan: an unsecured loan is one where the bank lends you money because they trust you will pay it back, a secured loan is one where the borrower offers something that the bank can take if he or she is unable to pay back the loan, and a mortgage is a special loan for buying a home which is usually paid back over a longer period.
Those are the main tasks you will need to do in a bank in English. Remember, the bank staff are there to help you so don’t be afraid to ask them if there are any expressions you don’t understand. Banking in English isn’t difficult and once you know the vocabulary above, you’ll be able to stop worrying about speaking English and concentrate on getting the best deal!