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Updated: Apr 27, 2023

A Bank Teller Reveals Secrets and Debunks Banking Myths

Bank secrets revealed and debunked by an unnamed bank teller at a major bank on bank practices, teller capabilities, and consumer money moves.
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Bank Tellers

We all know what a visit to a bank branch will bring. Average consumers have no clue what goes on behind the glass windows of their bank's local branch.

We talked to one bank teller from a major bank and he debunked some myths, as well as shared a couple secrets of his own.

Does it really take three days for checks to clear and post to your account?

No -- It all depends on a person's credibility and the type of check it is. For instance, payroll checks usually clear right away, and so do checks deposited by customers with an ample amount of cash in their account. Sometimes a portion of the check clears right away, and the rest clears in the next few days. The teller we spoke with said he has no knowledge of how the percentage is determined, as it is set by a system.

Debit card loss and theft are not as well-protected as credit card theft.

True. Some banks will cover all the fraud-ability charges, such as Bank of America. However, typically the protection is less than that of a credit card, so if you're concerned, contact your bank and inquire about all the loss and theft protection coverages available to you.

The only bank staff that can work at the teller window are tellers.

False -- It all depends on the bank and their protocol. For instance, at this particular teller's bank, assistant managers have to work at the window but that doesn't mean they always do if they're feeling lax... particularly at his branch. Another example is at Chase, where bankers are cross-trained as tellers.

The bank is allowed to pull money from your deposit if you owe overdraft loans or fees.


Calling a representative or going in person to your branch to resolve a problem will be better than filling out forms online.

True -- Representatives are empowered to forgive fees at their disclosure, given the situation and judgment merits it.

Fees are always negotiable.

False --  You cannot work the system. Our source says that fee forgiveness happens to a certain extent, however, a customer with a track record of abusing their fee-waiving privileges gets blacklisted. They may waive fees the first couple of times, but after that you're on your own.

"Tellers have a quota of new accounts they must get customers to open."

False -- It all depends which bank you go to. For instance, two big banks are more stern with this policy, and tellers who fail to meet those quotas have those notes marked on their records. However, the tellers do get a small referral fee each time a customer opens an account through their recommendation.

Banks hire mystery customers to report what's happening inside branches.

False -- Not true at all banks. For instance, rather than hiring mystery customers, one bank selects customers to contact regarding the customer service they received at the recent branch they visited. The customers are selected by patterns in their visits. This would prompt a bank to consider contacting such a customer.

If you're cashing a check, you have to cash it at the bank of the person who wrote the check.

False -- Some banks will cash a check for a customer whose check has been written by a customer of a different bank. However, they cash it against their account, meaning, if the check is worth $500, they must have $500 in their account in order to cover the bank's losses if the check bounces. This bank has a maximum amount they can do this for, however, so if you're cashing a lot of money, you may want to go the traditional route.

Banks don't always advertise their highest interest rate accounts.

True --  Can you believe it? Apparently, if you're already signing up for an account, they typically don't feel inclined to tell you about their other accounts. However, this is dependent on a banker or teller's integrity and honesty. Our source wasn't sure if there was a monetary fee associated with this type of sneaky finagling.

You may not have known...

You can increase the credit limit on your card in a pinch. Let's say your credit limit is $300, and you need to pay a $400 bill. If you go to your local branch, you can have the teller pay $100 to your account, which will stretch your limit. However, this trick doesn't work online -- usually, the site will only let you deposit your limit's worth of money plus ten percent of your balance.

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