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How to close your bank account

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If you’re unhappy with your bank, close your account and find a bank that meets your needs

Unfortunately, some banks don’t make the process as simple as they could. This leads many people to keeping unused bank accounts much longer than they should. Rather than risk being charged monthly fees on an inactive account, here are some simple steps you can take to close your bank accounts.

Shop around for a new account

Before you close down your old account, take the time to shop around and find a new bank account to replace it.

Perhaps you’re looking for an account that doesn’t charge monthly fees or you want more ATM flexibility. Maybe you’re after a savings account that lets you earn some interest on the cash sitting in your account.

Whatever you’re searching for, be sure you check out your options before you proceed. The last thing you need is to open a new account, only to find out later that the fees are much higher and rules are more stringent.

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    Update debit and credit information

    When you switch accounts, it’s important to be sure to switch any payment information for bills or direct deposit to your new account.

    Ask a representative at your new bank to help you with your transfers. They’ll get in touch with your old bank and ask them to provide a list of all your direct debits and direct credits. You’ll be shown the list and asked which of those payments you want shifted across to your new account.

    These will include things like:

    • Direct deposit.
    • Regular direct debit payments for any loans or credit cards.
    • Direct debit agreements for insurance policies, gym memberships, regular subscriptions or utility bill payments.

    Give your employer or payroll officer your new routing and account number to be sure your salary goes to the right account next time you get paid. Share the same account information with anyone else who pays you, including child support or any government benefits.

    Remember, you’ll need to enter in any accounts you had through bill pay.

    Back up plan

    Before you transfer all the cash in your old account over to your new bank account, take a moment to think about a backup plan. While you may think you’ve covered all your usual direct debit payments, there is a risk that you may have forgotten something.

    Leave some cash in your old account for a short time to cover any payments you may have overlooked. This will help you avoid missed payment fees or penalties.

    Close your old account

    When you’re sure your new account is up and running properly, it’s time to close your old account. This should only be done when you’re sure all your direct debits and credits have been successfully transferred over and you’ve given your new account details to anyone paying money into that account.

    It’s important to eventually close that old bank account, even if it’s empty. Some banks may charge inactivity fees for not using your account. Others may continue to charge monthly fees, which could cause an overdraft on your account.

    Most banks require you to go into a branch to close your account. You may need to request for the account closure in writing, along with your signature to verify the process. The easiest way to know for sure which option your bank wants is to call them and ask.

    Don’t make the mistake of thinking your account will be closed over the phone just because you spoke to someone. Banks really don’t want to lose your business, so they will make you work just a little bit to finalize a closure.

    Switching bank accounts doesn’t have to be difficult. You simply need to be sure everything’s in place with your new account before you shut down the old one. This will make sure the process is as smooth as possible for you.

    Adrienne Fuller

    Adrienne Fuller leads the publishing team at finder.com. She has one goal: to deliver the accurate and transparent information she wishes she had when she made some of life's important financial decisions. When she's not helping folks save money, she's hiking with her two Catahoulas around her home in San Diego.

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