If you want to put valuables in a safe place, under your mattress in inside your pillowcase is probably the worst place to do it. A much safer option would be to place them in a safe deposit box. Speaking of which, how big are they?
Safe deposit box sizes range from small to large. The typical small-sized safe deposit box is 3 × 5 × 12 inches. The largest average box measures 10 × 10 × 24 inches. The exact figures will vary from place to place.
In this guide, I’ll explain what safe deposit boxes are, what you can and cannot put inside a safe deposit box, and what sizes they come in.
What Is a Safe Deposit Box?
Growing up, you probably have heard of safe deposit boxes (or safety deposit boxes). Well, what are they exactly?
A safe deposit box is a special, locked container available in many banks and credit unions. They are kept within the institution’s vault or safe to ensure the security of the owner’s most prized possessions. Customers can put their trust in the safety of the building and institution protecting their valuables.
How to Use a Safe Deposit Box
Consider the following hypothetical situation. You don’t feel comfortable keeping your collection of rare coins, stamps, or documents in your apartment. After all, anyone can break into your home at any time, and there’s very little anyone can do about anything so untraceable unless they show up at a pawn shop or something.
In this instance, it would be a wise idea to place your irreplaceable belongings in the safety of a safe deposit box.
There are always 2 keys needed to access a safe deposit box: the one given to you by your bank or credit union and the one in the hands of the bank or credit union. You can access the box whenever you want during regular business hours, but you must prove that you are the true owner by identifying yourself and presenting the key.
The only way anyone could ever break into your safe deposit box is if they got their hands on your key and somehow managed to trick the institution into thinking they’re you. This is highly unlikely to happen, even if the presented a power of attorney. And that’s assuming that you added power of attorney privileges to your safe deposit box when first signing up.
Safe Deposit Box Dimensions
The size of a safe deposit box varies from place to place. Let’s take a look at the precise measurements provided by trusted institutions that offer safe deposit box services.
|Institution||Safe Deposit Box Dimensions|
|Bank of East Asia||3 × 5 × 22 in.
5 × 5 × 22 in.
3 × 10 × 22 in.
5 × 10 × 22 in.
10 × 10 × 22 in.
|Wells Fargo||From 1 × 5 × 22 to 35 × 40 × 22 in.|
|United Pacific Bank||3 × 5 × 21 in.
3 × 10.5 × 21 in.
5.5 × 10.5 × 21 in.
10.5 × 10.5 × 21 in.
|Citizens Bank & Trust||3 × 5 in.
5 × 5 in.
3 × 10 in.
5 × 10 in.
10 × 10 in.
|PNC Bank||From 3 × 5 to 10 × 10 in.|
|Union Bank||2.5 × 5 in.
5 × 5 in.
3.5 × 10 in.
5 × 10 in.
10 × 10 in.
|Fifth Third Bank||Starting from 3 × 5 in.|
|Citibank||6 × 5 in.
9 × 10 in.
10 × 10 in.
12 × 16 in.
22 × 16 in.
|Geico||From 2 × 5 × 12 to 15 × 22 × 12 in.|
How Much Are Safe Deposit Box Fees?
Like the size of the box, the cost of “renting” a safe deposit box varies from institution to institution. Some places may close as little as $15 annually for the smallest box, whereas other institutions will charge you upwards of $50 to store valuables in their 3 × 5-inch safe deposit boxes.
Some places will charge you per square inch in width and height. For instance, if you want to rent a 5 × 10-inch box, it would cost you $50 per year. The length of the box usually won’t affect the overall cost.
In certain banks, you can take advantage of a 1-year trial using a 3 × 5-inch (the smallest) safe deposit box. Afterward, you will automatically be charged for every day, month, or year you use the box.
What Are the Downsides of Safe Deposit Boxes?
Storing your valuables behind closed doors with 24/7 security and highly monitored access my sound like a good thing because, in many ways, they are good. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t cons to renting a safe deposit box, regardless of how trusted the institution is.
Let’s take a brief look at the various downsides of safe deposit boxes.
1. Limited access
Banks typically open from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM. You can only access your safe deposit box in many places during those hours. If you need to withdraw something at, say, 11 PM, you’ll have no choice but to wait for the following day. However, some institutions compensate for the lack of immediacy by allowing clients to access their safe deposit boxes outside of business hours—i.e., 1 to 2 hours past closing.
This is a con compared to purchasing a fireproof safe deposit box for use at home. You will have to pay a recurring monthly or annual fee, which is subject to change with or without your agreement. However, in exchange for recurring fees, you’ll also get the almost-guaranteed safety of your valuables.
Institutions are not required to insure the contents of your safe deposit box. That means if anything goes wrong, your belongings may disappear from the face of the Earth without compensation. The FDIC will basically tell you that if your valuables get lost or stolen from the safe deposit box, their hands are tied.