In times of economic unease, you may find yourself wondering whether your money is safe in your bank account.
Even if you still have a paycheck coming in during the coronavirus situation, your financial future might seem uncertain — and you might be feeling the need to stock up on cash, in addition to toilet paper and canned goods.
The good news is that your money is absolutely safe in a bank — there’s no need to withdraw it for security reasons. Here’s more about bank runs and why they shouldn’t be a concern, thanks to the system that protects your deposits.
What is a bank run?
A bank run happens when a large number of customers believe that their bank is going to run out of money, so they all decide to withdraw their cash. Bank runs can be dangerous, self-fulfilling prophecies, because these withdrawals may deplete a bank’s cash reserves.
Historically, bank runs were a problem during the Great Depression, and many people lost their savings due to bank failures. Not long after, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was formed to make sure no bank customer loses insured money due to bank runs or another institutional insolvency.
Even with all of the economic unease caused by COVID-19, the FDIC hasn’t received any reports of bank runs, according to spokesperson Brian Sullivan.
A bank account is typically the safest place for your cash, since each is FDIC-insured up to $250,000 in the event of a bank run or other bank failure. If you happen to have more than $250,000 in cash, you can open multiple accounts and distribute the funds across each.
Cash is usually physically safer in a bank account as well. For instance, there’s no guarantee that funds kept in your home are safe from burglars or fires. And depending on the bank account, you could be earning interest on your cash that you won’t otherwise be earning if it stays under your mattress.
Should I withdraw my cash from my bank account?
The answer can be summed up pretty easily: only if you need it.
“If you need money, go get your money,” Sullivan says. “If you don’t, then why take it out of the bank?”
Banks are operating differently these days to reduce the spread of the virus, but that doesn’t mean you’re cut off from managing your money.
“Bank branch availability has been impacted by COVID-19,” says Sullivan, referring to bank lobby closures across the U.S. “But that’s due to an abundance of caution, and it has nothing to do with the health of the banking system itself.”
He points out that many bank drive-through windows are still staffed, and ATMs are still accessible for depositing and withdrawing cash. Most bank services — such as paying bills, sending money and depositing checks — can be performed remotely via bank apps or websites.
The future may feel precarious right now, but there are systems in place to keep the funds in your bank account protected and your money management running smoothly.
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Chanelle Bessette is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.