English for Banking

Business English

This post has the Business English graphic but really, it’s for anybody who needs to use banks in English.


  • open an account
  • When you want to start using a bank you have to open an account, which is a section of a bank database that says how much money you have available.

  • close an account
  • When you want to stop using a bank you have to close an account. Easy!

  • make a withdrawal
  • To get your money out of the bank you make a withdrawal.

  • make a deposit
  • To put your money into the bank you make a deposit.

  • be in credit
  • If you have money in the bank you are in credit.

  • be overdrawn/go overdrawn
  • If you have taken more money from the bank than you had available you are overdrawn. You can also say you have gone overdrawn.

  • an overdraft
  • The bank lets people go overdrawn without any penalty if they set up an overdraft facility.

  • take out a loan
  • When you want to borrow money from the bank and pay it back month by month, you take out a loan.

  • make a transfer
  • If you want to send money to a different bank account you have to make a transfer. If you want to send money to an account in a different country you need a SWIFT code, which is an international bank number.

Example Conversation

Customer: Hello, I’d like to make a withdrawal. I couldn’t get my money out of the cash machine.
Banker: Could I take your bank card, please?
Customer: Here you are.
Banker: Do you have any photo ID?
Customer: Is my driving licence okay?
Banker: Yes, that’s fine. I’m afraid you’ve gone overdrawn by fifteen pounds and seventeen pence.
Customer: Really? That is strange because today is pay day and I should have around one thousand six hundred pounds going into my account. I also need to make a transfer. Could you tell me if my salary has been transferred to my account?
Banker: It appears that it hasn’t. I may be able to set up a temporary agreed overdraft for you while you deal with this problem. Would you like me to set up a five-hundred pound overdraft for you?
Customer: Yes, please. I’d like to transfer two hundred dollars to this account in Thailand, please.
Banker: Do you have the SWIFT code?
Customer: Sorry, I don’t.
Banker: I’m afraid I need the SWIFT code; it’s an international bank ID number.
Customer: Well, I’ll have to find it later from my son. I suppose I should phone work as well. Thank you for your help.
Banker: Thank you.