How to switch banks

The essence of switching banks is that you’re moving your cash from one account, closing that account, and putting the cash into a new account at another bank.

Zack Sigel

Zack Sigel

Published February 4, 2019

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There are many reasons you might want to switch banks. Some banks offer better customer service or convenience than others. Different savings accounts at different banks may have much higher interest rates. You might even have moral or ethical reasons for switching.

The essence of switching banks is that you’re moving your cash from one account, closing that account, and putting the cash into a new account at another bank. You’ll also have to update your banking information for any automatic payments or withdrawals.

Luckily, switching banks isn’t hard, but there are some steps you have to follow to make sure the process goes seamlessly. Not following these steps could cause a headache for you and anyone you regularly make payments to.

Read on to learn how to switch banks the easy way.

Step 1: Open a new bank account

Before you make the switch, you need to open a new checking or savings account (or both) at a different bank or credit union. This can done either in person or online. Make sure you research the best banks and credit unions for your needs as well as the types of accounts you want to park your money in.

Not sure what kind of account you should get? Our partner Fiona can help you compare bank accounts and find the best one for your needs.

You’ll need to provide some information about yourself and anyone who will jointly own the account with you. You’ll also need at least one form of ID.

Some banks require you to make a minimum deposit when you open the account. If that’s the case with your new bank, be sure to withdraw some cash from your old bank to meet the minimum at your new one.

However, don’t withdraw all the cash in your old accounts until your new one has been created. Many banks charge a low-balance fee (sometimes called a “maintenance fee” or “minimum deposit fee”) if your balance falls under a certain amount.

Learn more about what you need to open a bank account.

Step 2: Set up direct deposit on your new account

If you have direct deposit for your paycheck set up, then you’ll have to switch it over to your new bank. Talk to the person in charge of payroll at your company and he or she should be able to do it for you. You may need to provide a voided check just like when you set up direct deposit originally.

(Learn about why direct deposit it’s the most secure and convenient way to get paid.)

It may take at least a few weeks before the direct deposit is active. During that time, your salary or wages will still go to your old account.

We recommend keeping your old bank account open until your direct deposit starts appearing in your new one. Otherwise, the deposit may be rejected and you could face a delay in getting paid.

Step 3: Close your old bank account

Once you’ve confirmed that direct deposit is active for your new account, it’s time to close your old account. To do that, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:

  • Your account must not be in the negative. That means paying off any overdraft or nonsufficient funds fees as well as any claims against the account.
  • Your account must have no pending charges or deposits. These need to clear before the account can be closed.
  • If it’s inactive, your account will need to be reactivated. How a bank determines “inactivity” depends on the bank.

Once these have been satisfied, you can transfer your funds over. You can make an electronic transfer to your new bank (Zelle, a payment network that connects banks together, is the easiest way to do this), receive the funds in the form of a check, or withdraw the funds as cash. If you haven’t already hit your minimum balance requirement at your new bank, then deposit the money as soon as possible.

Now you can close your old account. Someone at the branch location can do it for you, or you can call the bank directly. If you use an online-only bank, you may be able to close the account from the website, but brick-and-mortar banks typically don’t allow this option.

Learn more about how to close a bank account.

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Step 4: Updating your bank information with other providers

If you used automatic bank withdrawals to pay your bills, you’ll need to log onto each provider’s website (or speak to one of their representatives on the phone) to update your banking information. Other companies have no way of knowing you switched banks unless you tell them.

Make sure you update your banking information for any recurring charges, which include but are not limited to:

  • Utility bills
  • Credit card bills
  • Loan payments, including mortgages, auto loans, and student loans
  • Insurance payments
  • Charity donations
  • Retirement account contributions
  • Digital asset and cryptocurrency purchases
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