How a Passbook Savings Account Can Help You Take Control of Your Finances

A passbook savings account is a traditional type of savings account that promotes manually tracking your money.

A close-up of a woman's hands holding a physical savings account passbook while sitting in front of her laptop
Updated May 13, 2024
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A passbook savings account is a special type of savings account. It's distinct from a standard savings account because it uses a passbook — a written log of your transactions.

Passbook accounts can be a great option for people opening a bank account for the first time, as well as for savers looking for ways to keep themselves from spending money. These traditional savings accounts often offer competitive interest rates, as well as other benefits such as the ability to easily transfer money from a checking account. But is a passbook account right for you?

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In this article

What is a passbook savings account?

Passbook accounts are offered by a limited number of banks. They require you to use a passbook in order to record deposits and withdrawals. A passbook is a physical book where you keep a written record of transactions.

Traditionally, before the days of online banking, passbook accounts were common, and using a physical book was the only way to keep track of money going in or out of your account. Customers would write down deposits and withdrawals in their passbook to keep track of their balance.

Most people don't use a physical passbook anymore as it's widely seen as more convenient to simply track your account balance online. But some banks still promote passbook accounts as an alternative that gives you more hands-on control over your money management.

Typically, with a passbook account, account holders can’t use a debit card to access their money through an ATM or to make account deposits. Instead, you'll bring your physical passbook to the bank and complete your transaction with a teller while recording the amount of money you've put into your account or taken out of it.

Passbook savings accounts are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., can be linked to checking accounts online, and often come with competitive interest rates as well as affordable monthly fees or no monthly service charge at all.

If you'd rather track transactions manually with pen and paper, or if you want to create an added barrier to accessing your savings so you're less tempted to take money out, they could be your ideal savings account choice.

Do any banks still use passbook savings accounts?

Although passbook savings accounts are no longer common in the age of online banking, some financial institutions do offer them. Here are three examples of banks that make passbook accounts available.

Cathay Bank

Cathay Bank offers a passbook savings account with a competitive variable interest rate of 0.03%-0.05% (as of May 23, 2023), a low minimum deposit, and automatic transfers between accounts. You'll get unlimited service from a teller with your passbook account, and can also check your account details via online or mobile banking in addition to using your passbook.

Here's what to know about your Cathay Bank account.

Cathay Bank passbook savings account basics

APY 0.03%-0.05% (as of May 23, 2023) depending on account balance5
Minimum balance for APY $50,000 for highest APY
Minimum deposit to open account $100
Monthly maintenance fees $3 per month if you do not maintain a minimum $500 daily balance
ATM access No
Transactions per month N/A
FDIC insured Yes

Cathay Bank has locations in California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Washington,

Dollar Bank

Dollar Bank provides a passbook savings account that's FDIC insured, charges no monthly maintenance fee, and allows you to easily transfer money from checking. The APY is also competitive 0.10% (as of May 23, 2023), and you need only a $25 deposit to open the account.

Here are the details of Dollar Bank's passbook account.

Dollar Bank passbook savings account basics

APY 0.10% (as of May 23, 2023)
Minimum balance for APY None
Minimum deposit to open account $25.00
Monthly maintenance fees $0
ATM access No
Transactions per month N/A
FDIC insured Yes

Dollar Bank has locations in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

First Republic Bank

First Republican Bank offers a passbook account with no monthly service fees, a competitive rate of 1.30%-1.55% (as of May 23, 2023), and an online view of your account balance. Although the minimum deposit is higher than competitors, you can rest assured your money is safe due to FDIC insurance.

First Republic Bank passbook savings account basics

APY 1.30%-1.55% (as of May 23, 2023)
Minimum balance for APY Below $25,000 for 1.30% APY
$25,000 for 1.40% APY
$500,000 for 1.50% APY
$1,000,000 for 1.55% APY (as of Jan. 9, 2023)
Minimum deposit to open an account $500
Monthly maintenance fees $0
ATM access No
Transactions per month N/A
FDIC insured Yes

First Republic Bank has locations in California, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.

How to open a passbook savings account

To open a passbook savings account, you'll first need to find a bank offering one. The banks above are a good starting point, and you can also check with smaller local banks and credit unions to explore options.

Once you've found a bank that provides access to a passbook savings account, you'll need to comply with its minimum deposit requirements. The minimum deposit could be as low as $25 or as high as $500 depending on your financial institution.

Many banks allow you to open a passbook savings account online, but you may need to provide some personal identifying details including your driver's license number as well as your Social Security number and whether you wish to open an individual or joint account.

Once your account is opened, the bank provides you with a physical passbook that you’ll need to manage your money.

How to withdraw money from a passbook savings account

In general, you cannot withdraw money from a passbook savings account via an ATM. You’ll need to visit a bank branch with your passbook and work with a teller to complete your withdrawal. When you take money out of the account, this should be recorded in your physical passbook.

Although having to visit a teller to complete a transaction can seem inconvenient, this is a feature of passbook accounts that many people like.

You'll benefit from personalized banking services when you visit a teller and can get in-person support for managing your account. Having to complete the extra step of going to the bank can also discourage you from moving money from savings if you don't need to.

FAQs about passbook savings accounts

Is a passbook savings account safe?

Passbook savings accounts are safe as long as you open one with a financial institution that is FDIC insured. There are numerous banks that offer this account type with FDIC insurance protection up to the legal limits.

What banks have a passbook savings account?

Some of the best banks offer a passbook savings account. First Republic, Dollar Bank, and Cathay Bank are three of many examples of financial institutions that offer a passbook account. You can also check with local banks and credit unions in your area.

What is the current interest rate on a passbook savings account?

The current rates on passbook savings accounts can vary depending on the bank you select as well as your account balance. You could be offered a rate as low as 0.03% or as high as 1.15% APY, but you typically need a larger account balance to get the most competitive rates.

Bottom line

A passbook savings account is a traditional alternative to modern banking, but one that still offers many of the same perks as any other type of financial account. Opening a passbook account gives you the benefit of having a physical record of your transactions, as well as the ability to access your account information online. You'll also benefit from competitive savings rates as well.

If you want to be able to see your transaction history on paper, a passbook account could be just what you're looking for. But a passbook account isn't the only way to optimize your savings efforts. To make the most of your savings, be sure to explore high-yield savings accounts with no minimum balance requirements and to do the research needed to find the best savings accounts for your needs.

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Author Details

Christy Rakoczy

Christy Rakoczy has a Juris Doctorate from UCLA Law School with a focus in Business Law, and a Certificate in Business Marketing with an English Degree from The University of Rochester. As a full-time personal finance writer, she writes about all things money-related but her special areas of focus are credit cards, personal loans, student loans, mortgages, smart debt payoff strategies, and retirement and Social Security. Her work has been featured by USA Today, MSN Money, CNN Money and more, and you can learn more at her LinkedIn profile.