Learn 14 Key British Banking Terms Ep 720

Learn essential banking terms in English.

📝 Author: Hilary

📅 Published:

💬 3420 words ▪️ ⏳ Reading Time 18 min

📥 Download MP3 & PDF 18.0 Mb ▪️ 👓 Read Transcript ▪️ 🎧 Listen to Lesson

14 Essential English Banking Phrases

It doesn't matter where you are in the world, we all have to talk about money, even when we don't have any! 🌍 Today we explain in detail 14 British banking terms, used (nearly everyday) when talking about money. We explain the terms, how to say them correctly and when you might use them in a conversation. A very practical English lesson. Start listening now to find out more!

Why join us?

  • 📚 Learn banking terms you will need to use
  • 🗣 Enhance your conversation skills
  • 🎧 Listen and learn for effortless understanding
  • 💡 Get tips for everyday banking scenarios

✔Lesson transcript: https://adeptenglish.com/lessons/english-phrases-banking-vocabulary/

The more you learn, the more you earn.
⭐ Warren Buffett

Whether you're a beginner or advanced learner, this lesson is packed with essential vocabulary and phrases you need to navigate the banking world confidently. From "debit card" to "online banking," learn through real-life examples and boost your fluency in no time.

Essential banking vocabulary, a must-have tool for English-speaking financial environments. You'll grasp practical terms, from 'accounts' to 'transactions,' enhancing your ability to manage finances confidently in English. This knowledge bridges cultural and linguistic gaps, making everyday banking accessible and less daunting.

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.
⭐ Maya Angelou

Our lessons are here to help you #SpeakEnglishWithConfidence in any situation. Embark on your journey to financial English fluency with Adept English today!

More About This Lesson

Welcome to today's English lesson where we dive into the exciting world of banking vocabulary! We'll explore essential terms that will help you navigate English conversations and manage your finances with confidence. Whether you're puzzled by "overdrafts" or curious about "contactless payments," this lesson has got you covered.

The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.
⭐ Albert Einstein

In this lesson, you'll unlock key benefits:

  1. Learn practical banking vocabulary.
  2. Improve understanding of real-life English use.
  3. Connect new words with personal banking experience.
  4. Hear examples of terms in context.
  5. Practice listening for fluency in English.
  6. Discover British banking specifics.
  7. Learn differences between debit and credit.
  8. Get tips for smart banking practices.
  9. Prepare for more advanced banking topics.
  10. Gain insights into British culture and language nuances.

Here are the main points we'll cover:

  • Banking Basics: Understand terms like 'account', 'transaction', and 'balance'.
  • Digital Banking: Get familiar with 'online banking', 'contactless payments', and how to use banking apps.
  • Financial Management: Learn about 'statements', 'direct debits', and the difference between 'debit' and 'credit' transactions.
  • Overcoming Challenges: Tackle fears like miscommunication, cultural differences, and technological challenges in banking.
Technology is nothing. What's important is that you have a faith in people, that they're basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they'll do wonderful things with them.
⭐ Steve Jobs

Engage with this lesson to:

  • Discover the fascinating origins of banking terms and how they've evolved.
  • Appreciate the historical and global significance of banking practices.
  • Learn practical vocabulary that bridges cultural and linguistic gaps, making banking less daunting.

Ready to take your English to the next level? Join us at Adept English for more invaluable lessons that blend language learning with practical, real-world skills. Subscribe now and start your journey to fluency today!

Frequently Asked Questions About Essential Banking Terms

Navigating this lesson on banking terms is like setting sail on the vast ocean of English vocabulary, with each term a beacon guiding your way to fluent conversation.

  1. What is a bank account and how does it differ from other types of accounts? A bank account is a record of your interaction with a bank, showing how much money they hold for you and all transactions made. Unlike other accounts, such as email or social media, a bank account specifically tracks financial transactions, including deposits and withdrawals.
  2. How does online banking work? Online banking allows you to manage your bank account through an app on your phone or a website. You can view transactions, make payments, and manage your finances conveniently. An app, short for application, is software you download to access your banking information securely and quickly.
  3. What are direct debits and how do they function? Direct Debits are automatic payments taken from your bank account, usually on a monthly basis, for recurring bills like utilities or phone contracts. Once set up, they automatically transfer money from your account to the service provider, ensuring you never miss a payment.
  4. What is the difference between a debit card and a credit card? A debit card allows you to spend money directly from your bank account. It's good for keeping spending in check since you can't spend more than you have. A credit card, however, lets you borrow money up to a certain limit. You need to pay back the borrowed amount, often with interest, unless you clear the balance monthly.
  5. What does being overdrawn mean, and how does it relate to an overdraft? Being overdrawn means your account balance is negative because you've spent more money than you had. An overdraft is the facility that allows you to withdraw more money than available in your account, either arranged in advance with better terms or unarranged, which can incur higher fees.

Most Unusual Words:

  • Account: A record that shows all the money you have put into or taken out of a bank.
  • Transaction: Any action that involves moving money into or out of your bank account.
  • Online banking: Using the internet to manage your bank account and do banking activities.
  • App: A program on your phone or computer that helps you do specific tasks, like online banking.
  • Direct debit: A way to pay bills automatically from your bank account every month.
  • Debit: When money is taken out of your bank account.
  • Credit: When money is added into your bank account.
  • Statement: A list that shows all the money that has gone into or out of your bank account over a certain time.
  • Balance: The amount of money you currently have in your bank account.
  • Overdrawn: When you spend more money than you have in your bank account, causing your balance to be negative.

Most Frequently Used Words:


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Transcript: Learn 14 Key British Banking Terms

How to navigate your bank account in English

Hi there. Today I thought what a great opportunity to learn about how your bank account works - in English! Vocabulary for banking, for your bank account in other words. Today I’m going to cover 14 banking terms - 14 words or phrases you’ll need to discuss banking in English - so really useful, practical vocabulary. You may not know these English words because it’s not the type of thing that’s necessarily covered on your language course. Some of the words may be the same in your language or not - let’s find out! And let's demystify and unlock English for personal banking! From ‘accounts’ to ‘transactions’, and ‘online banking’ to the magic of ‘contactless payments’, these words are the key to your understanding and managing your finances in an English-speaking environment. So here we go! If you’ve listened to podcast 719, I talk in that about one of my negative experiences with a bank. So you could use this podcast 720 to practise your vocabulary - and then listen to podcast 719 to hear me sharing an opinion with you, partly to do with banking!

Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.

The Seven Rules of Adept English

Don’t forget that if you want more information, more tips and advice about how to fast-forward your English comprehension and your English fluency, then sign up for our free course, The Seven Rules of Adept English. It’s a video course - and it’s been around quite a while. We do things differently now at Adept English - so that course is a glimpse into our past! But the content is good, the advice still applies. So sign up for that free course, to find out what our ‘Listen&Learn’ method of language learning is all about!

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Fourteen Banking Terms Explained

Meanwhile let’s cover some ‘banking vocabulary’ today. Assuming you have a bank account, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I explain, but the words in English are possibly different from the words you use in your own language. The phrases I’m going to cover are:-

  • account
  • transaction
  • online banking
  • app
  • direct debit
  • debit
  • credit
  • statement
  • balance
  • debit card
  • credit card
  • contactless payment
  • overdrawn and overdraft and
  • interest

Quite a lot then!


A picture of a dictionary page highlighting the words Banking Terms with colourful markers. Manage your finances confidently abroad.

©️ Adept English 2024

‘Bank accounts’ and ‘transactions’?

So firstly the term, the phrase ‘a bank account’. If you hold an ‘account’, ACCOUNT with a company, an organisation, it may mean a bank account, but there are all kinds of other accounts we have. It may be your email account, your Paypal account, your Instagram account or your eBay account. If you have an account with an organisation, it means that you or they have input details and set up a record on their database of you as a customer. And attached to that ‘account’ are all the details or your interactions with that company. This may mean, if it’s eBay the details of items that you have bought or sold through eBay. If it’s Instagram, it’s your photographs, your comments and the history of your interactions with other people who use Instagram. So a bank account is the record that the bank have of your interaction with them and how much of your money they hold. It’s also a record of all the transactions, that’s TRANSACTIONS on your bank account. A ‘transaction’ in this context means ‘money coming into your account’. That might be money you pay in, or other people or businesses pay into your bank account for work that you’ve done. Or it may be your employer paying in your salary. And a ‘transaction’ on your bank account can also be a record of when you’ve spent money from your account. It may be an automated payment for your electricity - or it may be the payment you made last Saturday, when you bought a new pair of shoes.

Online banking - the future of money management?

And if you have ‘online banking’, which is a really great thing, it means that you have an app on your phone, where you can see your bank account and all of your banking transactions. An ‘app’, APP - that’s short for ‘application’. And an application is a piece of software, computer code if you like which you have downloaded. The Apple ‘app store’ is an example of where you might do this. So once you’ve got the banking ‘app’ on your phone, you can access your banking record. Really useful - you can see what’s going on, what and who you’ve paid, what money has been paid in and what’s gone out.

Pay your bills with Direct Debit and Standing Order

So all of this is visible on your phone if you have online banking. You will also be able to make payments from you online banking app, which is really useful. And ideally you can also set up automated payments. In the UK, we call this Direct Debit, if a payment, usually monthly, comes out of your account. It may be for services, like water or gas, or electricity, or your mobile phone. And it’s called ‘Direct Debit’, ‘DD’ for short, because it happens ‘directly’. You don’t have do anything once it’s set up. It just pays out automatically. And ‘debit’, DEBIT just means a transaction on your account which takes money out and gives it to someone else, gives it to a different bank account. The opposite of a DEBIT is called a ‘credit’ transaction. That’s CREDIT and ‘credit’ means ‘money coming in’. The other way to make automatic payments in the UK is called a ‘Standing Order’. So this works very similarly to a Direct Debit - there are technical differences but a Standing Order looks pretty much the same from your end. It means that you pay money out regularly.

Monthly Bank Statements

If you don’t like online banking and you prefer that your bank communicate with you by letter, then you may receive what’s called a monthly ‘statement’. You probably know the word ‘statement’, STATEMENT in English - as meaning a type of sentence. A ‘statement’ tells you something, whereas a ‘question’ asks something. But if we’re talking about a ‘bank statement’, as here, we mean a list of transactions, in and out of your bank account for a particular period of time. So you may receive your bank statements monthly, or quarterly - that’s every three months or even every six months. If you do online banking - so you’ve got the banking app on your phone - then you can usually also download statements in the app and look at them online. I find it useful when I’m doing my tax return - my record of what I’ve earned that I send to the UK government, so they can tax me. And it’s useful for keeping track of your finances.

What’s your bank balance?

Another word that’s useful to know - your ‘balance’, BALANCE. This means simply ‘the amount in your account at this particular time’. Clearly this figure goes up and down all the time, particularly in what we call a ‘current account’. That’s the main account that you use. So your ‘bank balance’ is simply the amount that’s in your bank account, right now. In contrast to your ‘current account’, you may also have various ‘savings accounts’. These are the ones where you pay in, to save your money up. You may not touch the money in your savings account for a long period of time. How long depends upon what you’re saving up for!

Debit cards and ‘contactless payment’

Other banking terms, other phrases that are useful. I’ve mentioned the idea of ‘debit transactions’ - that’s when money goes out of your account. And when you get a bank account, you will probably be sent what is known as a ‘debit card’. This is a plastic card that you can use either in physical shops or online, using the numbers on the front. You key in the number and the expiry date and the special code on the back and you can pay for things online. If you’re in a shop, physically, this is usually done through something called ‘contactless payment’. It uses RFID technology to receive payment information. With a debit card, there may be a maximum, a limit on what you can spend in one transaction or in one day. And you can’t usually go overdrawn using a debit card. So often it means that you ‘can’t spend more than you actually have in your account’. So if you buy things using a debit card, the money goes straight out of your bank account.

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How big is your overdraft?!

So the word ‘overdrawn’, that’s OVERDRAWN. It’s a past participle, but it’s used mainly as an adjective. ‘Overdrawn’ is used to describe a bank account where the owner has spent more money than they have - the account is in the negative. The noun to go with this is ‘an overdraft’ - OVERDRAFT. And you may accidentally have an ‘overdraft’ for which the bank will make you pay - or you may have ‘an agreed overdraft’. That means you’ve got ‘permission’ from the bank for this overdraft and the cost of it is usually less. The terms are usually better!

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Credit cards - tool or a trap?

Another contrast - we’ve talked about a ‘debit card’ - what about a ‘credit card’? So a ‘credit card’ is where you have an account, which can be with your bank, but can also be with a credit card company - there are lots of those. And instead of you paying money in, which you then spend, a credit card company will give you ‘credit’ CREDIT. You’ll have a card with a zero balance - and you can borrow money on this card. Usually they charge quite a bit of interest - that’s INTEREST and that means the extra money that you pay when you’ve borrowed. The best way to use a credit card, if you must have one, is to pay off the balance before the interest is due. That means you get the benefits of a credit card, but none of the downside. The downsides are that you have to be controlled or you might spend more money that you can afford. And the other downside is the huge interest that you pay, if you don’t clear you debt or the amount you owe each month.

And of course, remember that if you have an ordinary bank account which is ‘in credit’ - the bank actually have to pay you interest. Much nicer that way around!

So those are some basic banking terms. Shall I list the words I’ve covered?

  • account
  • transaction
  • online banking
  • app
  • direct debit
  • debit
  • credit
  • statement
  • balance
  • debit card
  • credit card
  • contactless payment
  • overdrawn and overdraft
  • interest

This podcast doesn’t cover all of the vocabulary to do with banking - there’s a lot more. But these are the basic words that you need - so they’re very useful.


I hope you like this podcast - it’s very, very practical. And essential knowledge if you’re in an English-speaking country.

Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

Thank you so much for listening. Please help me tell others about this podcast by reviewing or rating it. And, please share it on social media. You can find more listening lessons and a free English course at adeptenglish.com




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