Business English Banking Vocabulary: 19 Must-know Terms

Take a look around you.

No matter where in the world you are, there are banks in every city and on almost every street corner!

Some of us go to the bank to make transactions (to take out or put in money).

Some of us, however, work at the bank, or hope to have a career in banking.

No matter which group you fall into, you need to deal with the bank not only in your own country but when you’re traveling on business.

“But where do I start?” I hear you asking.

By learning the vocabulary of banking, of course.

I have here for you today a list of business English vocabulary for banking products and services you can “bank on” (a phrasal verb that means to “depend on”).

Before we get started on the list, I have some practical news resources you can use to further your reading and listening skills for banking vocabulary.

Are you ready to get started?

4 Top News Resources for Expanding Your Banking Vocabulary

1) The Banker

The Banker is an award-winning international banking and financial source with sections devoted to international markets, banking regulation and risk, transactions and technology and much more.

There are also videos featuring editorial opinions, meetings and interviews with global banking figures. You can sign up for the annual subscription package that comes with site access plus 12 issues of The Banker magazine.

2) CNBC Banking News

CNBC News has a section featuring the latest banking and financial news. There are videos and shows covering investing, Wall Street, hedge funds, insurance, venture capital and much more.

The resources here are free to read and watch, and you can also sign up to receive newsletters in your inbox.

3) The Economist

The Economist features banking news and articles from around the world, with sections for different countries.

You can sign up for email newsletters and to access three articles per week. You may opt for a paid subscription to either the weekly print edition, digital/audio edition or the print and digital/audio edition.

You can save money on digital or print versions of The Economist (and many other magazines that publish economic-based news) with Magazine Line. In the “Business & Finance” section, you’ll also find discounted subscriptions for Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek and more.

4) TheStreet

TheStreet is another site that features international banking news with news alerts that you can sign up for. Many of the articles are free to read, and there are three paid subscription bundles you can choose from.

Business English for Banking: 19 Vocabulary Words You Can Bank On Anytime

1) Bank guarantee

A bank guarantee is a promise made by a bank that if a borrower fails to repay their loan, the bank will step in and make the payment for them.

Sample sentence: After months of negotiations, the deal was finally signed when Acme Company agreed to provide us a bank guarantee.

2) Bank transfer

A bank transfer is the act of moving money between two banks, or two bank accounts.

Sample sentence: To answer the customer’s question, I emailed the bank. I was told that bank transfers usually take between 5 to 7 working days.

3) Credit history

Your credit history is a record of your habits and behavior in paying and repaying your debts and loans. It shows how responsible you have been in handling what you owe to banks, financial institutions, etc.

Sample sentence: One thing is for sure, our company has never had problems applying for loans because of our excellent credit history.

4) Blank check

A blank check is a check that has been signed but on which the amount has been left blank, giving you the freedom to fill in any amount you wish. You’d be lucky to get one of these!

Sample sentence: Moving closer to the office has cost me a whole month’s salary. It would be nice if someone would give me a blank check to furnish the place.

5) Bounced check

A bounced check is one that the bank is unable to process due to insufficient funds (not enough money) in the account. When this happens, the bank returns (or bounces) the check and charges the account holder a penalty fee.

Sample sentence: I’m sorry, but our company doesn’t accept personal checks anymore because of our past experience with bounced checks.

6) Automatic payment

An automatic payment is an arrangement where you authorize your bank to deduct (take out) money from your account to make routine payments for your bills, rent, insurance, etc.

Sample sentence: If you’re a frequent business traveler, setting up automatic payments will ensure you never miss your bill payments, even when you’re overseas.

7) Annual fee

An annual fee is a yearly fee your bank or credit card company charges you for the use of your credit card.

Sample sentence: Due to the annual fee, I can only afford to have one credit card.

8) Foreign currency

Foreign currency refers to the currency, or system of money, used in a particular country.

Sample sentence: Before you travel overseas on business, it’s a good idea to carry some cash in foreign currency for things like bus or taxi rides, or even a cup of coffee.

9) Exchange rate

The exchange rate refers to how much one country’s currency is worth in another country’s currency.

Sample sentence: Since you travel overseas so often on business, you must be keeping an eye on the exchange rates of countries you frequently visit.

10) Joint account

A bank account held by more than one person is called a joint account. Each account holder has the right to withdraw from and deposit money in the account.

Sample sentence: Since we’re going to be partners in this new startup, I think we should set up a joint account.

11) Down payment

A down payment is the initial (first) amount paid at the time of purchasing big items such as a house or car, with an agreement to make full payment later.

Sample sentence: My business partner and I have made a down payment on an office lot in the downtown district.

12) Available balance

The available balance is the amount of funds in your bank account that you’re able to use, withdraw or transfer. This excludes transactions that are currently pending or have not been completed.

Sample sentence: To avoid any issues of trust, it’s best to check your available balance before issuing a company check.

13) Fiscal year

The 12-month period of time that companies and businesses use for financial purposes is referred to as a fiscal year. This may be different from the year on the calendar (see below).

Sample sentence: We’ve been working hard to secure more projects that we hope will boost our earnings in the next fiscal year.

14) Calendar year

A calendar year is something we’re all familiar with. It’s the period of 12 months beginning January 1 and ending December 31, as shown on a calendar.

Sample sentence: In our business, we make our financial projections based on the fiscal year rather than the calendar year.

15) Billing cycle

A billing cycle is used in business to refer to the interval (or period of time) between one invoice period and the next. Billing cycles are usually recurring, or set to repeat every month.

Sample sentence: It’s strange that my internet service provider uses a billing cycle of 90 days instead of the usual 30 days.

16) Charge card

A charge card is a special type of credit card that doesn’t charge you interest, but requires you to pay your balance in full before the due date.

Sample sentence: You may have heard of these two well-known charge cardsAmerican Express and Diners Club.

17) Combined balance

A combined balance is the total amount of funds in all of your linked bank accounts.

Sample sentence: My bank statement reflects my combined balance. I can see at a glance the grand total in my savings and checking accounts.

18) Depreciation

Depreciation is the decline in the value of a capital asset (property), such as vehicles and machinery, over time.

Sample sentence: After depreciation, our company’s 5-year-old truck is worth less than 50% of its original price.

19) Maturity date

The maturity date is the date on which financial products such as investments, loans and insurance policies are set to mature. When these products mature, the principal and interest then become due for payment.

Sample sentence: We have to ensure we have the funds to cover our outstanding business loan before the maturity date.


So there you have it—a list of essential banking vocabulary and news sources you can go to for reading and listening practice, and to learn new banking vocabulary.

Go at your own pace, but plan to learn and practice at least one or two new vocabulary items a day. You’ll be amazed at your progress.

Happy learning!

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