Nearly all banks offer safe deposit boxes to their customers for a nominal fee. The benefits of a safe deposit box are many and the drawbacks few, making them one of the best security values for your money.
A safe deposit box is a storage area within the bank that is used to store items valuable to you. To access your box, you typically show ID and sign in. Your signature is compared to the one on file with your account. You are then escorted to the safe deposit box area, where a bank employee unlocks one of two locks holding your box in place. Your key opens the second lock. You are then able to add, withdraw, or review the contents of your box.
The main advantage of a safe deposit box is the security that it offers over other alternatives. Storing valuables in your home, even in a safe, is probably much less secure. House thefts are extremely common whereas safe deposit thefts, because of the many security provisions described above, are extremely rare.
A safe deposit box also has the advantage of being separate from your home. As a result, items that may be necessary if your home were destroyed by fire, flood, etc., can be stored there. A home inventory or insurance policy that is destroyed along with your home is not as useful as one protected in a separate location.
For the added security of a safe deposit box, the main disadvantage is accessibility. You can typically only access your box during normal banking hours. So if your passport is in your box, you’ll need to plan ahead if you are leaving the country on a weekend. Safe deposit boxes also have no record of their contents. That means that items placed inside may be forgotten or misunderstood. To combat this problem, I keep a written inventory at home, which is updated whenever I access my box. The privacy of box contents is actually seen as an advantage to many people. The last downside is that a lost safe deposit key can be costly to replace.
My bank only charges a few dollars a month for a large safe deposit box. I do keep some items at home in a fire resistant box, but my most valuable items are all in my safe deposit box. The security and peace of mind are well worth the investment of a few dollars to me, and may fit in with your lifestyle as well.