Thrift banks are financial institutions that focus on basic banking services for their clients, with an emphasis on individuals and small businesses. This core of services is built around the offering of home mortgages along with savings accounts that carry a competitive rate of interest. Today, it is common for this type of bank to also offer checking accounts, car loans, and other personal finance support services.
Unlike retail or commercial banks, a thrift bank is normally thought of as a community development financial institution that is concerned with providing the best financial services possible to individuals, as well as small businesses that operate in the area. It is highly unusual for this type of bank to actively seek accounts with large companies or other businesses that operate on a national or international scale. A thrift bank is likely to be owned and operated by people that live in the community, and who are deeply invested in the general well being of that community.
A thrift bank may function with one central location, or operate a few branches within a relatively small geographical area. Just as the larger banks, a thrift one that operates multiple branches utilizes technology that effectively allows each branch to access a central repository of accounts. This allows bank customers to conduct business at any of the branches with equal ease, including depositing funds into a savings or checking account, or making payments on a mortgage or other type of loan.
In terms of service offerings, a thrift bank is capable of meeting all the usual needs of the individual customer. The savings accounts often come with an interest rate that is competitive with the rates offered by the larger financial institutions. Home mortgages are also likely to carry rates and other terms that compare to mortgage options at other banks, mortgage companies, and savings and loan associations operating in the area. When it comes to checking accounts, a thrift bank normally offers at least a no-frills checking account, and may offer more than one checking account option, such as accounts with special rates for depositors over the age of fifty.
As with all types of banking institutions, deposits in a thrift bank are protected through government programs. This allows depositors to feel secure that their savings and checking account balances are insured, at least up to a certain amount.