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How far do you have to walk to get to your nearest bank branch? Well chances are it’s got further in the last few years.

Can you live without a bank branch?

How far do you have to walk to get to your nearest bank branch? Well chances are it’s got further in the last few years.

Around 60 bank branches are closing every month, according to research by Which?, with an estimated 2,868 shutting shop between 2015 and the end of 2018.

Scotland, the South East and North West have been the worst hit, but most regions across the UK have seen significant branch closures.

So, what can you do to avoid this problem and is it possible to live without a local bank branch?

Switching

If your bank has closed its local branch, then you could just switch to a bank which has kept its branch open.

The problem is almost all banks are moving away from bricks and mortar locations, particularly the big high street names. This means you could end up switching bank just to find out the new one is closing its doors as well.

Mobile branches

You could look into switching to a bank offering mobile branches. This is where a bank turns up in a customised van and sets up shop in the local supermarket carpark.

But even this is not a perfect solution. Mobile branches are irregular and still don’t offer all the services you might expect in branch.

Get online

Along with the cost of running a physical location, banks justify closing down branches because fewer and fewer people are using them. This is largely due to the increasing popularity of online and app-based banking.

Using your computer or smartphone, you can check your balance, set up standing orders, transfer money, even pay off your credit card bill.

The problem is many people aren’t confident enough to use online banking, or simply don’t trust its security.

On top of that, there are just some services you cannot use online, such as paying in cash and cheques.

Go to the Post Office

From January 2017, the Post Office started offering a large number of services for the banks.

This means, if you needed to pay in a cheque and couldn’t get to your bank branch, you could pay it into the Post Office who would deposit it into your bank account.

The main problem is the Post Office itself has also been criticised for shutting branches, so this option might also not be available to you.

Managing your money

If your bank branch has closed and you’re not comfortable banking online, then one of the biggest issues you will face is how to manage your money day-to-day.

If you’re confident and happy to use banking apps things like paying bills and paying in to your savings is easy. You can set up standing orders and authorise Direct Debits in minutes, knowing this will all be taken care of for you.

The only real alternative if your branch closes is to rely on your banks telephone service.

What about other banking services?

A much bigger issue is what happens to those bank services people might only need a few times during their life, such as applying for a loan or mortgage.

In the past, if you wanted to borrow money, you could walk into your bank branch and sit down with an advisor to talk through your options. Today, there is a far greater chance this might be done over the telephone.

Now, for something as important as a mortgage, you might be willing to travel. But there’s no getting away from the fact that even this could be inconvenient.

What if I need cash?

Now this really is a serious problem. According to Which? 200 communities in Britain have either a poor service or no cash machines at all!

This has knock on effects for not just people, but small local businesses as well.

Yes, cashless technology is overtaking notes and coins, but this creates significant problems for the same people who are less likely to use online banking and apps.

Unfortunately, we bank branches closing, getting hold of physical money is going to get harder and harder for people in some regions.

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