At the Bank

English for Banking and Finances

Banking vocabulary has to be one of the most useful areas for English language learners who are visiting and working in an English speaking country for a longer period of time. When arriving in a new country to live, one of the first things we need to do is open a bank account.

When banking and dealing with financial issues, we tend to use certain key phrases and words. Using English at the bank can be a daunting prospect for some EFL students due to the specific vocabulary needed.

Read on to find some of the common banking vocabulary and special terms and words you will hear at the bank and banking vocabulary you might want to use.


Banking vocabulary associated with finances

money, loose change, coins, pennies, notes

cheque, bank book, paying in book, deposit

to debit – to take money from your account

to credit – to add money to your account

credit (noun) – credit allows a person to buy goods/services before payment, based on trust that payment will be made in the future

debit card, credit card, store card (types of plastic cards used for making financial transactions – debit cards use money you already have in your account, while credit cards use money on ‘credit’ – that you will pay in the future)

direct debit, standing order, one-off payment

ATM (automatic teller machine), ‘hole in the wall’ – (the machine you get money from on the street or often located inside a shopping centre)


PIN (personal identification number) – used in the ATM and when paying with your credit/debit card

Warranty, insurance, purchase protection – when you have bought an item, this is insurance against it breaking

Debt, arrears

liquidation – turning investments into cash (i.e. selling your house to get the money)


bureau de change, exchange rate, currency, commission

interest – extra money added onto a debt / credit given

pay by installments, pay in full, interest-free credit

Credit card networks: Mastercard, Visa, American Express – these companies act as intermediaries, creating networks between financial companies

General types of debit card: Switch, Solo, Visa Electron, Maestro

Vocabulary associated with banking and saving


Bank account, checking account, deposit account, savings account

Insurance, travel insurance, life insurance

Mortgage, loan, debt

Tax, VAT (value added tax), gross income, net income

Bank manager, bank clerk, teller



Savings account, ISA, investment, bond

Pension, pension plan,

Interest rate, gross interest, net interest, AER, tax free

Fixed rate, variable rate

(Gross rate interest – before deduction of income tax)

(AER – annual equivalent rate – interest if paid and compounded on an annual basis)

English for banking

Collocational phrases for financial situations

to open a bank account

to pay in a cheque

to cash a cheque

to transfer money

(for a company) to go into liquidation

(for a company) to go into administration

to be in debt

to owe money (to someone)

to take out a loan

to insure something against fire/theft/accidental damage

to pay into a savings account/pension


to borrow money from someone

to pay by installments

to lend money to someone

to invest in something/someone

to get a return on an investment

to change some money

English for banking - piggy bank

Useful Phrases – Using English at the Bank

Phrases you may want to use
I’d like to open a savings account I’d like to open an ISA, please
I’d like to pay in a cheque What is the interest rate on this account?
I’d like to cash this cheque Could I change this money, please
My credit card has been stolen Could I change £50 into Euros, please
I’ve lost my credit card What is the exchange rate?
Phrases you may hear
Would you like to apply for a credit card? Could you fill out this form, please?
Would you like to open an ISA? You will need to speak to the mortgage manager / financial advisor
Would you like your interest to be compounded? Do you need insurance?
We can change that into Euros for you Do you want to pay your balance off in full?

Can you think of any more useful banking phrases?


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