What is a High Street Bank?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A high street bank is a major retail bank with numerous branches for the convenience of customers. This slang term is used most commonly in the United Kingdom, where “high street” is a generic term for the major shopping street in a city or town. Referring to an institution as a high street bank or shop is meant to suggest that it is a common fixture offering basic services, in contrast with a specialty or boutique institution designed for very specific needs.

A high street bank, a phrase used in the United Kingdom, is a major retail bank with numerous branches for the convenience of customers.
A high street bank, a phrase used in the United Kingdom, is a major retail bank with numerous branches for the convenience of customers.

Typically, high street banks offer a wide range of services to their customers. Banking is available for individual consumers and businesses, and the bank may offer car and home loans, as well as other types of financing, such as credit cards. Banking services can include checking, savings, and investment accounts, along with financial advice from bank staff. High street banks can also create money orders and cashier's checks, generate traveler's checks, and provide similar services to their customers, and may have safe deposit boxes for the storage of valuable or important belongings.

Some people prefer to visit a bank branch even if the services they need can be performed online or over the phone.
Some people prefer to visit a bank branch even if the services they need can be performed online or over the phone.

Fees for services at such banks vary. Most have tiered pricing structures where people get basic account services for free and can enter higher tiers by paying fees either on a monthly or percentage basis, depending on the structure of the fees at the bank. High street banks tend to compete for customers, as their services are very similar to those of banks in the same market and people can often get promotional interest rates, waivers of fees, and other benefits when opening new accounts.

Financial services like wire transfers and direct deposit are also readily available through a high street bank. Customers evaluating high street banks to decide where they want to bank should be able to get a list of all the banking products on offer and the list will provide information about associated fees. Such banks may offer special services for free with high volume accounts and people should pay attention to terms like minimum deposit requirements when selecting the account best suited to their needs.

Doing business with a high street bank can have advantages. Using a bank with numerous branches allow people to access their accounts in a variety of locations and working with a known bank can be easier while traveling. A high street bank often offers online banking services for convenience and may be able to afford to provide a more varied array of services than smaller banks.

High street banks often offer online banking services.
High street banks often offer online banking services.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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