This article originally appeared on Finder.com and has been republished here with permission.
Thinking it’s time to break up with your bank? Unfortunately, some banks don’t make the process as simple as they could. This leads many people to keep 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 account.
1. Explore Your Close-Out Options
Each bank has a different policy for closing out accounts. Some let you close your account online, while others want you to call or visit a local branch. Call your bank to see which closing method they require.
This is also a good time to verify what information they need from you to finalize the closure. Some banks require a written request detailing your full name, mailing address and the account numbers for each account you want to close. If your bank needs this information, you’ll most likely send it to them using a secure online portal or fax.
2. Decide What to Do with Your Remaining Balance
If you have money left in your old bank account, there are a few things you can do with it:
Request a paper check. You’ll get a paper check in the mail if you close your account online or over the phone and have a remaining balance. Some banks charge fees for this, so read the fine print to know what to expect.
Withdraw the cash in-person. If you close your account in person, you can withdraw funds while you’re at the bank or request a cashier’s check. But be careful using this method because you run the risk of accidentally losing the money once it’s in your possession.
Transfer it to a new bank account. The easiest way to tackle remaining funds is to transfer them to a new bank account first. This is usually free and ensures your money is safely deposited in an account where it can’t get lost or stolen.
3. Request written confirmation
The last thing you want is to rack up fees on a bank account you thought you closed but never actually did. Even if your balance is $0, 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.
Avoid these fees altogether by getting written confirmation from your bank stating your account is officially closed.
Things to Consider before You Close Your Bank Account
Closing a bank account can be a bit tricky. Make sure the process goes smoothly by following these steps before you close your account:
Shop around for a New Account
Before you close your 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 high-yield savings account that lets you earn some interest on the cash sitting in your account.
Whatever you’re searching for, 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.
Update Direct Deposit and Bill Pay Information
When you switch accounts, make sure you 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. They may show you a list and ask which of those payments you want transferred to your new account.
These will include things like:
- Direct deposit
- Regular direct debit payments for credit cards or loans
- 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 so that 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.
Make Sure Pending Payments Have Cleared
Avoid overdraft fees by making sure pending payments have cleared before you withdraw any remaining funds. If you want to be extra cautious, you can leave some cash in your old account for a short time to cover any recurring payments you may have overlooked. This will help you avoid missed payment fees, overdraft fees or penalties. Then, you can withdraw remaining funds when you’re ready to close.
Closing an old bank account seems complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. All you have to do is find out your bank’s account closure policy, decide what you’ll do with remaining funds and get written confirmation from your bank. Then, you can shop around for a better account.
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