Recovering Safe Deposit Boxes After Bank Buyouts

As a general rule, bank buyouts do not affect the day-to-day activities of the bank, including administration of safe deposit boxes. The new bank wants to keep the existing customer base. Here is what to do if you are concerned about the safety of your safe deposit box.

Confirm Commitment to Existing Agreements

  • Ask for an appointment to speak with the bank manager. Ask about all existing bank account terms and conditions, and your safe deposit box lease agreement.
  • If you have a charter account, where you currently pay no fees for your safe deposit box, ask if the new bank will honor this agreement. If the new bank policy is to start charging you a fee for this service, you have 3 options: 
  1. You can agree to pay the new fee. Ask to be kept advised in writing of every fee increase so you can give informed consent.
  2. You can terminate your safe deposit box lease and empty your box. Be sure to hand the two keys back to the bank if you do so.
  3. You can take your bank business elsewhere. Give suggestions to the bank management as to what they need to do to keep your business, and be prepared to negotiate firmly to get what you deserve as a bank customer in good standing. 

If the bank is genuinely interested in retaining you as a customer, they will probably agree to your retaining your safe deposit box at no charge. They will probably approach you soon afterward to discuss other services they can provide for you.

If You Terminate Your Box Agreement

If you choose to close your safe deposit box, but continue as a customer of the new bank, you have several options:

  • You can arrange a safe deposit box at a privately owned safe deposit box firm. Check the Yellow Pages or get a referral from a friend or business associate who use such services.
  • You can install a home safe. A wall-mounted or built-in fire-resistant safe is your best choice. It will cost less than paying for a safe deposit box for several years.
  • If you wish to safeguard personal papers only, consider an electronic safe deposit box. You can scan all the papers onto electronic storage media and send them by e-mail to the "e-box." This safe deposit box will have a registration file number, that you can enter using an alpha-numeric password. Fees are substantially less for this service than for most safe deposit boxes, because physical storage is not provided.

If You Take Your Bank Business Elsewhere

Choose a community credit union or small community bank because these institutions tend to be more customer-focused institutions. Typically, they will provide you a safe deposit box free of charge. In addition, they will provide the personal attention you enjoyed at your previous bank before it was purchased.