Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Whichever side of the pond you reside on, you'll still have to deal with bankers. Wherever one goes, one will always find a few bankers. However, not all bankers are the same. There are some differences with banking here, compared to banking in the UK.

  1. Cheques are not "cheques", but "checks". A check must also be "endorsed". This means that in order to cash it, it has to be signed on the back by the person trying to cash it, using the exact name that the check is made out to.

  2. There is no such thing as an arranged overdraft (at least, not as far as we know). In the UK, if one has the foresight to realise ahead of time that one's salary for the month is not going to last the month, one can phone the bank and agree an overdraft limit with them. An overdraft that has not been arranged leads to rapped knuckles, a good telling-off from the bank and penalty fines. In the US, one cannot arrange an overdraft. All overdrafts therefore come with the requisite rapped knuckles, telling-offs and fines.

  3. There is no such thing as a check guarantee card. In the UK, when one writes a cheque, one can present one's cheque guarantee card and the recipient writes the number of the guarantee card on the back of the cheque. If a cheque is presented to the bank with a guarantee number, the bank has to honour that cheque. It is a way of the cheque recipient being able to confidently accept cheques without fear of losing revenue.

  4. The UK does not have drive-through banks. The US has drive through fast-food, drive through pharmacies and even drive through banks. After all, why should customers need to be bothered with things like having to get out of a car?

  5. US monetary notes are all the same size and colour, so it's quite easy to confuse (for example) a $1 bill with a $10. One has to look quite closely at them. In fact, in the UK, we would talk about notes, not bills. One would have a £10 note, not a £10 bill. In addition, if one has a purse (pocket-book) with both US and UK change, one has to look quite closely because a US penny and a UK penny look very similar. A UK 5p coin and a dime (10¢ coin) are also the same colour/shape/size.

  6. Here, in our part of the USA, a handbag is a purse and a purse is a pocket-book.


Anonymous said...

You can set-up overdraft protection with most banks or credit unions in the US. You would have a line of credit and if there is not enough money in your checking account when a check comes through the bank will take the money off of the line of credit - which you have to pay back with interst of course.

jacqui said...

You also have to pay for your checks here and they are used more frequently because a lot of credit unions haven't quite got the hang of the electronic age so they still take a long time to process. In the UK, they say the use of Cheques is so low, they will probably stop using them in the next few years.

Unlike banks in the UK where you can seem to get foreign currency in any high street bank and the current exchange rate is prominently displayed,you need to hunt for foreign currency here. Also there are no consistent rules re travellers cheques which can create problems when you have visitors over.

When I first arrived here in 2000, I was amazed that you still had to send off a cheque each month for your regular bills as most companies didn't have a way of paying automatically. Forunately that has now changed, can't think of any bills I pay by cheque now.

Quite frankly, banking is still in the dark ages over here. Well, at least in this part of Texas it seems like that.

Ren said...

Also, you can usually appeal the fines if you don't usually overdraft. Once I used the wrong bank account for ordering pictures online from my digital camera. I got a $30 fine for a 30c purchase. After I appealed the fine to the customer service representative (over the phone, not in the branch -- don't know if that would be different), we ended up talking about good places to get prints from our digital camera.

Lorraine said...

Banking in the UK sounds very civilized.