What Is a Passbook Savings Account?

Tyler Parker, Preferred Banking Office Manager, First Republic Bank
January 19, 2022

  • Passbook savings accounts come with a physical notebook/booklet allowing the account holder to record their deposits and withdrawals. 
  • Storing money in a passbook savings account offers security, as well as the opportunity to earn interest. 
  • Passbook savings accounts may be most suited to those who prefer to bank in person, or who want a physical record of their financial activities. 

While most consumers know what a savings account is, many may be less well acquainted with a passbook savings account: A traditional savings account equipped with a physical booklet, called a passbook. The booklet’s purpose is to help you keep track of the money going into and out of your savings account.  

A passbook savings account can serve as an individual’s primary savings account or as part of a larger savings strategy. This guide will help you understand how a passbook savings account works, learn the unique benefits it provides and determine whether the option is right for you. 

How passbook savings works 

In some ways, a passbook savings account resembles a standard savings account. You deposit money into the account, where it’s stored securely and is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) up to $250,000 per depositor, per account, per ownership category.

Similar to a standard savings account, a passbook savings account earns interest. Your account balance will grow over time. 

Where a passbook savings account stands out, though, is in how you access and manage your savings. Account holders receive a notebook/booklet for recordkeeping and tracking deposits and withdrawals from the account. Account holders also typically have to bank in person, and a teller updates their passbook accordingly, which may explain why passbook accounts are often less familiar to consumers, at a time when many bank account holders utilize electronic banking. 

Passbook savings vs. other savings accounts

A passbook account may be used as a sole savings vehicle or as one of multiple savings accounts. Regardless of the strategy you choose, understanding how a passbook savings account compares to other savings accounts can help you make an informed decision about which account types to incorporate into your savings plan. 



  • Interest earning

  • Backed by FDIC insurance up to $250,000 per depositor, per account, per ownership category for your peace of mind 

  • Designed for long-term savings goals, including building an emergency fund, saving for a home or vehicle or saving for retirement 
  • Comes with a notebook/booklet to manually record withdrawals and deposits 

  • Account holders often bank solely in person, although some financial institutions — including First Republic — may allow you to check your account balance online  

The specific features of passbook savings accounts may vary based on the financial institution offering them. Ensure you understand the interest rate, features and fees at your bank to determine the best account for you. 

Benefits of a passbook savings account 

A passbook savings account comes with several benefits. Some are similar to the benefits of other savings vehicles, such as money market savings and certificates of deposit, whereas others are unique to passbook savings accounts.

  • Security: Money stored in a passbook savings account is insured by the FDIC up to $250,000 per depositor, per account, per ownership category. This insurance protects your money in the event of a bank failure. 

  • Interest: Account holders earn interest on the money stored in their passbook savings account. Interest helps your savings grow over time to help you reach your goals. 

  • Recordkeeping: The booklet or notebook comes with a passbook savings account that makes it easy to track money going into and out of your account. 

  • Low or no monthly service fees: Passbook savings accounts often allow you to save, while avoiding or minimizing service fees. 

Other passbook account considerations

Passbook savings accounts are most suited to those who prefer to bank in person, because account holders must visit a branch to withdraw or deposit funds into the account, and the account may not be accessed with an ATM card. If you rely on electronic banking to deposit or withdraw money into your savings account, you’ll need to adapt to a different approach for a passbook savings account.

However, the features of a passbook banking account may differ between financial institutions. First Republic offers flexibility by allowing account holders to keep track of the balance in their Passbook Savings Account using online banking.  

Who should get a passbook savings account? 

Passbook savings accounts offer a simple way to build your savings. They may be ideal for:

  • Those who want the ability to earn interest on their deposits, while minimizing or avoiding service fees  

  • Those who prefer to bank in person and prefer to keep a physical record of their transactions and financial history

  • Parents seeking an opportunity to teach their children about financial and savings basics, because the physical book can serve as an excellent learning tool 

No matter what savings account you choose, explore all of your savings account options to find the account(s) most suited to your unique needs or consult with a financial advisor for personalized advice.

Using passbook savings to meet your financial goals

A passbook savings account offers a unique way to pursue savings goals by allowing you to earn interest and secure your money, while maintaining a physical record of your financial activities. 

Whether you’re considering a passbook savings account as your sole savings vehicle or as part of a larger savings strategy, finding the right savings accounts for your needs can help you optimize your savings and reach your financial goals. 

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