A portable personal banking system comprises a host computer and at least one portable terminal among a variety of terminals including automatic teller machines and personal computers. The portable terminal provides a range of banking services over an automatically dialed-up telephone connection to the host bank computer. The personal terminal comprises a keyboard and display capability with mininal key requirements and display capacity respectively. Furthermore, during a banking mode of operation, control resides in the host bank computer. Consequently, future modifications or additions to banking services may be implemented without any change to the personal terminal. Also, the costs of providing the present portable personal terminal banking terminals are minimal compared with known home information terminals such as videotex terminals or personal computers. Yet, a personal terminal serving system is compatible with a serving system including home or office personal computers equipped with modems, automatic teller machines and other bank service enhancements implemented by the serving bank. Also, during a local mode of operation without the banking system, the terminal serves as a personal banking manager. The personal terminal housing may comprise a front surface for data entry and display and a rear surface comprising a pocket for banking forms and a writing table.