How Do Banks Make Money

Have you ever wondered “How do banks make money?” Banks, a crucial part of our financial system, provide an extensive variety of services to consumers, businesses, and governments. While most individuals are accustomed to using banks for savings, loans, and transactions, it’s possible that fewer people are aware of the fundamental principles that underpin a bank’s profitability. In order to provide a clearer image of how banks function and prosper in the financial environment, we will demystify the process and throw light on the main methods they generate revenue in this article.

How Do Banks Make Money?

Traditional banks earn money in a variety of ways, according to the sort of bank and its target clients.

How Do Banks Make Money?

Community banks generate their money primarily by lending money to local citizens and small companies. The funds are derived from depositor funds kept in various sorts of bank accounts. Although a lot of big banks generate the majority of their revenue from interest, they earn a greater proportion of their revenue from non-interest sources than small banks.

Large banks are usually segmented into departments that cater to different types of customers and services. Their commercial banking or retail banking sections, for example, may provide standard bank services like deposit accounts (which might include checking or savings) and personal as well as business loans. Their investment banking sections, on the other hand, may assist large corporate and government clients in raising funds, managing their funds, and investing the bank’s funds.

Read more: Best Way To Get Out Of Credit Card Debt

The Role of Deposits and Reserves

The role of deposits and reserves in the banking sector is fundamental to its stability and functionality, as deposits form the lifeblood that fuels banking operations, while reserve requirements act as a safety net to maintain liquidity and safeguard customer interests.

Deposits: The Lifeblood of Banking

Deposits from individuals and businesses form the foundation of a bank’s operations, providing the necessary capital to support lending activities and investment ventures. Banks utilize the funds from these deposits to extend loans to borrowers, stimulating economic growth, and earning interest income in return. As the primary source of funding, deposits play a pivotal role in determining a bank’s profitability and overall financial health.

Reserve Requirements and Liquidity

To safeguard financial stability and protect depositors, regulatory authorities impose reserve requirements on banks. These reserve requirements mandate that banks hold a certain percentage of their deposits as reserves, maintaining a level of liquidity that can meet customer withdrawal demands and other financial obligations. By holding reserves, banks ensure they can manage unexpected cash outflows and avoid potential liquidity crises. This regulatory measure contributes to the overall stability of the banking system, instilling confidence in depositors and the financial markets.

Interest Income

Borrowers are charged interest when they borrow money. Banks provide a service to their customers by lending money, and interest is how they earn from that service. Interest is often charged as a percent of the sum borrowed.

Interest Income

Interest is charged by banks on a number of products and services such as loans, credit cards, and mortgages. Interest rates vary depending on the product. They also change with time and are affected by the economy. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rates plummeted to historic lows, holding around or around 3% throughout the majority of 2020.

When a customer obtains a loan or borrows credit, they must pay interest until the money gets returned to the lender. As an illustration, consider a $5,000 individual loan with an interest rate that’s 9.65 percent on average. If you pay off the $5,000 personal loan over a two-year period at a rate per month of $230, you will end up paying around $5,566 in total.

That indicates your loan profits the bank $566 in interest. Banks utilize a portion of the profits to pay interest to clients who have money in savings or checking accounts. The banks will keep whatever is left over.

Fees and Commissions

Aside from the income gained on mortgages and loans, banks also profit from the fees they charge. Banks derive a large portion of their revenues from fees imposed on both customers and non-customers. Banks collected up to $32 billion in fees for overdrafts alone in 2012. Other banks impose a fee to cash a check written on their bank if the individual who is cashing the check is not the bank’s customer, and banking software allows them to compute and track this money and profit. Customers may be charged the following fees by their bank:

Fees and Commissions

  • Account fees: Checking accounts, credit cards, and investment accounts, are examples of common financial instruments that impose fees. These fees are referred to as “maintenance fees,” despite the fact that maintaining these accounts costs banks very little.
  • ATM fees: There may be occasions when you cannot locate your bank’s ATM and must rely on another ATM to obtain cash. That will almost certainly cost you $3. Such circumstances occur frequently and just mean greater revenues for banks.
  • Penalty charges: Banks enjoy slapping a penalty fee on clients’ missteps. It might be a credit card payment you made at 5:05 PM. It may be a check made for one penny more than what you had in your bank account at the time. Whatever the case may be, expect to incur a late fee or a dreaded overdraft cost of $25 to $40. Clients are suffering, but banks are thriving.
  • Commissions: Most banks will have investing divisions, which frequently serve as full-service brokerages. Of course, their trade commissions are larger than those of most discount brokers.
  • Application fees: A lot of banks apply for a loan origination or application charge when the applicant applies for a loan (particularly a home loan). And they have the option of incorporating the charge amount into the principal of your loan, which implies you’ll have to pay interest on it as well! (For example, if your loan application charge is $100 and your bankrolls it off as a 30-year mortgage at 5% APR, you will spend $94.40 in interest just on the $100 fee.
  • Loan and service fees: Banks may charge fees when they make loans or sell other financial items like insurance policies. Instead of receiving interest from the borrower, a few banks will make loans and then sell them to another financial organization. The bank can continue to profit from the loan origination fee and sale, or it may charge fees to service the loan.
  • Investment fees: Banks that provide investment services might receive fees for managing clients’ money and providing brokerage services (such as a fee each time you purchase or sell a stock). Commissions or fees can be earned by banks that produce or sell mutual funds, annuities, and various other financial services.

Investment and Wealth Management Services

Banks can also profit significantly from investment and wealth management services. These can include:

Investment and Wealth Management Services

Brokerage and Underwriting Services

Big investment banks, just like traditional middlemen, connect consumers with sellers in various markets. They charge an additional fee on trades for this kind of service. Smaller investors can make modest stock trades, whereas huge financial institutions can make enormous trading blocks.

Investment banks additionally offer underwriting services when a firm needs to raise capital. A bank, for instance, may purchase stock in an IPO (initial public offering) and subsequently sell the shares to investors. There exists the risk that the bank can not sell the shares at greater prices, resulting in a loss on the IPO for the investment bank. Many investment banks apply a flat fee for the underwriting procedure to mitigate this risk.

Producing Collateralized Goods

Investment banks may take a large number of smaller loans, including mortgages, and package them into a single security. The principle is similar to that of a bond mutual fund, except that the collateralized instrument is made up of smaller debt obligations compared to government and corporate bonds. Investment banks have to acquire loans in order to package and sell them, therefore they strive to profit by purchasing low and selling high on the market.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Fees are charged by investment banks for serving as advisors on spinoffs and mergers and acquisitions (M&A). A spinoff occurs when the target firm sells a portion of its operations in order to increase efficiency or inject financial flow. Acquisitions, on the other hand, happen when one business buys another. Mergers occur when two companies unite to form a single entity. These are frequently intricate transactions that necessitate extensive legal and financial assistance, particularly for corporations unfamiliar with the process.

Mergers and Acquisitions


Swaps can be profitable for investment bankers. Swaps generate profits through a convoluted form of arbitrage in which an investment bank mediates a trade between 2 parties exchanging their respective cash flows. Most commonly used swaps happen when 2 parties recognize that a change in a benchmark, like interest rates or exchange rates, may benefit them both.

Making Markets

Investment banks commonly engage in market-making activities that generate revenue by providing liquidity in stocks or other markets.A market maker displays a quote (buy and sell prices) and earns a little difference between the 2 prices, which is referred to as the bid-ask spread.

Proprietary Trading

The investment bank employs its own capital in the stock market through proprietary trading. Traders who put the firm’s capital at risk are often compensated depending on performance, with good traders receiving big bonuses and failed traders being fired. Since additional controls were introduced during the financial crisis of 2007-2008, proprietary trading has been far less common.

Proprietary Trading

Dark Pools

Assume an institutional investor wishes to sell several million shares, a volume large enough to have an immediate impact on markets. Other market participants may notice the large order, creating a chance for an aggressive trader with fast speeds technology to front-run the sale in an effort to profit from the upcoming shift. To combat front-running, investment banks built dark pools in order to draw institutional sellers to hidden and anonymous markets. The service is charged by the bank.

Investment Analysis

Direct research can also be sold by major investment banks to financial professionals. To make better investing judgments, money managers frequently acquire research from huge institutions including JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs.

Investment Analysis

Asset Administration

In other circumstances, investment banks act as asset managers for major clients directly. Internal fund agencies, like internal hedge funds, may exist at the bank, and they frequently have attractive fee arrangements. Because client portfolios are huge, asset management may be highly profitable.

Finally, investment banks may collaborate with or establish venture capital or private equity funds in order to raise resources and invest in private assets. The objective is to buy a potential target company, sometimes with a lot of influence, and then resell or go public when it grows more valuable.

Other Sources of Revenue

Loan Servicing Fees

In addition to interest from loans and deposits, banks also make money through other means. The emphasis in this section is on loan servicing fees, a substantial revenue stream. We explore the idea of loan service and emphasize the function of fees in covering the costs of maintaining loans’ administrative duties.

Banks levy loan servicing fees to offset the expense of managing loans. These costs are typically fixed or calculated as a percentage of the loan total. For extra services such as processing late payments or loan adjustments, there can be a cost.

Loan Servicing Fees

Banks rely heavily on loan servicing fees to generate income and cover loan management expenses. In the end, these fees help a bank’s lending activities to be more profitable overall.

The amount of loan servicing costs imposed by banks depends on a number of criteria. These consist of service level agreements, loan complexity, size, and risk assessment. Higher fees may result from more complicated or risky loans, bigger loan sums, and improved services.

Loan servicing charges raise borrowing expenses, but they often offer useful advantages. To guarantee accurate records, on-time payments, and high-quality customer service, banks make investments in dependable infrastructure and loan management systems. By supporting these activities through fees, efficient loan servicing benefits borrowers.

Insurance Services

Banks are not just financial intermediaries but also generate revenue through various sources. This article focuses on insurance services as one such source, examining how banks leverage them to boost their profits.

Recognizing the potential of the insurance industry, banks offer insurance services to expand their product range and strengthen customer relationships, providing comprehensive financial solutions under one roof.

Insurance Services

Banks offer life, property and casualty, and health insurance services. They partner with insurance companies to provide life insurance coverage, collaborate for property and casualty insurance, and venture into health insurance offerings tailored to meet specific needs, earning commissions and premiums from policyholders.

Adding insurance services diversifies banks’ revenue, reducing reliance on traditional banking activities. It enhances customer relationships, increases cross-selling opportunities, and boosts profit margins. Insurance services offer higher profitability, leveraging existing customer bases to sell policies and earn substantial commissions, while providing comprehensive financial solutions to customers.

Insurance services are vital for banks’ revenue generation. By diversifying offerings, banks secure additional income, strengthen customer relationships, and increase profitability, making insurance services a significant contributor to their success in an evolving financial landscape.

Foreign Exchange Trading

Foreign exchange trading (Forex trading) is a profitable source of income for banks all around the world. Banks take advantage of forex trading to make significant profits because there are trillions of dollars traded every day on international currency markets. They utilize a variety of methods to accomplish this.

For starters, banks profit from facilitating currency transfers for their customers. They act as mediators, buying and selling currencies at various rates and profiting from the difference, known as the spread. Banks generate significant revenue from these transactions by offering competitive exchange rates and charging fees or commissions.

Foreign Exchange Trading

Then, banks engage in speculative trading by exploiting exchange rate volatility. They employ skilled traders who keep an eye on market circumstances and evaluate factors that influence rates. Based on this information, banks make informed decisions to buy rising currencies and sell depreciating ones in order to profit significantly.

Banks also supply liquidity in the foreign exchange market through their ability to buy or sell huge amounts of currency. This guarantees that transactions are executed efficiently for other market participants, and in exchange, banks collect fees or profit from the spread.

Banks also engage in derivative trading by using instruments such as FX options and futures contracts. They manage risk exposure and provide clients with hedging solutions, earning fees or profits from these transactions.

It’s worth noting that banks have sophisticated risk management procedures in place to limit the risks associated with FX trading. They use tactics including setting position limits, executing stop-loss orders, and doing regular assessments.

Banks earn money from forex trading via facilitating transactions, engaging in speculative trading, providing liquidity, and participating in derivative markets. While there are complexities and hazards, banks efficiently manage them by leveraging their expertise, market information, and technology to make profits and provide meaningful services to clients.

Real Estate And Property Management

Banks engage in a variety of operations to increase revenue, including real estate and property management, in addition to their core business of receiving deposits and disbursing loans. This article examines how banks might increase their income streams by using their knowledge and resources in the real estate market.

Real Estate And Property Management

  • Real estate investment: By purchasing real estate, banks can diversify their investment holdings. They purchase homes either directly or through direct purchases, distressed sales, or foreclosure auctions. Banks who own real estate stand to gain from prospective growth, rental income, and tax breaks.
  • Mortgage financing: A key component of banks’ real estate operations is mortgage financing. They provide mortgage loans to both individuals and companies for the acquisition of real estate in exchange for interest and origination fees.
  • Property Development: Banks take part in initiatives involving property development, buying land or buildings to erect or refurbish. Capitalizing on the need for business and residential space, they make money from the selling or leasing of these assets.
  • Property Management: Banks offer services for managing real estate, helping owners of rental properties find tenants, collect rent, and maintain their properties. In order to maximize property value while assuring a consistent revenue stream, they levy management fees or a percentage of rental revenues.
  • Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs): Banks create and administer REITs, combining funds from various investors to make investments in properties that generate income. They diversify their sources of revenue by receiving management fees and a portion of the earnings.

Real estate and property management contribute considerably to bank revenue. Banks participate in the real estate market’s potential through investments, mortgage loans, property development, property management, and REITs, supporting growth and diversification. Banks may traverse economic cycles and position themselves as significant players in the real estate business by expanding beyond standard banking activities.


Understanding how banks make money reveals the intricate web of financial activities that underpins their prosperity. Although each bank could have a unique strategy and line of products, the industry’s main revenue sources remain constant. From interest income and fees to investments and extra services, banks employ a number of ways to boost revenue while reducing risk. By comprehending the fundamental causes of a bank’s profitability and making informed choices regarding their financial interactions, people and businesses may make sure they maximize the benefits of their banking relationships. Understanding how banks generate revenue enables individuals to confidently navigate the constantly shifting financial world.

By: Bank Info

Scroll to Top