Things To Keep In Mind When Switching Banks

If you’re fed up with your financial institution and are convinced it’s time to move on, it’s better to move slowly and precisely rather than rush into the move. The switch will go more smoothly if you take care to properly set yourself up for the change.

Consumerism Commentary offers a step-by-step guide to switching accounts. First, make sure you’ve got the cash to open new accounts with adequate minimum balances to avoid fees. Also, shift your spending to another account to make sure any outstanding transactions have cleared before it’s time to close the old account.

When your new account is funded and ready to roll, adjust your direct deposit information at work and update any automatic billing accounts.

It’s a good idea to re-examine every account you’ve got to see whether or not it’s linked to the checking account you’re dropping. Don’t close the old account until you’re sure you’ll no longer need it.

Bank Switch Kit and Checklist [Consumerism Commentary]


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  1. Todd_F says:

    It’s easy. I moved everything over to a credit union – checking, direct deposit, car loan, savings and Visa credit card. Piece of cake.

    Now I walk in the credit union and I am treated like an actual customer, not like I’m ordering fries at a fast food joint. And get this, the same faces are in the credit union when I go back, and they recognize me! Imagine that, good service, stable employess, no fees on anything, a 9.9% APR Visa, 3.9% APR car loan and no BS.

    Love it. Make the move, you won’t regret it.

    • Labratt21 says:

      Yup. I did the same after BofA started the debit card thing. Saved some major cash in the process. 3.2% on a car loan down from 6.5%

    • Lyn Torden says:

      I get treated better at Wendy’s than I got treated at Chase back when I had an account there (closed over a decade ago when I made the switch to a small bank).

    • IphtashuFitz says:

      Our local cooperative bank that we switched to (when ditching BoA) even let my wife bring our greyhound in with her when we were there for a followup to take care of some additional account housekeeping. I was meeting her there and was surprised when I walked in and found the dog curled up next to the desk of the woman who was helping us.

      A week or two later when we stopped by the bank (only our third time setting foot in the bank) the same woman asked us how our dog was doing.

      It’s little things like this that make me wish I’d switched from BoA years earlier than I did.

      • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

        Of COURSE they treated you special. You have a GREYHOUND for cryin’ out loud!!!!

        (For many years we always have had at least two greyhounds in the house! LOL!!!)

    • Costner says:

      For every one of these stories, there is someone like me who has zero problems with my “big bank”.

      The few times I have walked in to the actual store (typically when I’m turning in my change bucket or need a certified Cashier’s Check) they treat me with absolute respect and give me smiles all around. I don’t go in there often enough to know if it is the same employees year after year – but frankly I don’t care. The best part is that I typically don’t need to go in to see a teller because their ATMs are everywhere and don’t cost me a cent. The ATMs will even accept my deposits of checks by scanning them so I don’t even have to type the amount into the machine and no envelope is needed.

      They have automatic and online bill pay features for free, they offer me 3% APR on my savings account, they give me free checks (which I never use), I can find a ATM practically anywhere nationwide with no fears of paying ATM fees, and at the end of the year they are big enough that when I log into TurboTax it can import all of my 1099 forms and tax documents automatically without me having to bother with paper forms or manual data entry.

      I don’t pay any monthly fees, my credit card with them is 7.9% (although I never carry a balance) and I don’t have a car loan with them any more, but when I did it was 3.9%.

      I have evaluated Credit Unions and have never found one to be better or more convenient. I’m sure for some people they are, but for other people they aren’t. I just don’t think this is a once size fits all situation.

      • Todd_F says:

        My experience with big banks (BofA, Citi, TD and Discover) have been significantly different. I’m not even sure what the definition of a bank is anymore, since many of them converted to “bank holding companies” in order to be elligible for free TARP bailout money from the government, to keep them from failing due to their own greed and corrupt business practices.

        But at any rate, here is what I experience (and goody for you that you haven’t had such pleasantries):

        Citi – I had a total of about $3,500 on various credit cards. Not too bad, but with three kids and and stay at home wife, more than I wanted to carry or could pay off immediately. Got an offer to transfer everything to CITI at a low rate until it was paid off. I took their offer and transferred it with the help of their staff. The limit was $3,500 and that’s what I transferred. They then added a transfer fee of $300, which took me over the limit and put me into default according to their terms. I then had a default interest rate of 27% and they trashed my credit rating.

        Discover – got wind of the default, raised my interest rate from 14.9% to 24.9% and lowered my credit limit from $20,000 to $2,000.

        TD Bank – burried a clause in a statement that they were adding overdraft protection to my debit card account, which I had for ten years and used for general purchases. If it declined, no problem, I pulled out a credit card. I had 7 small purchases adding up to $90 one weekend that overdrafted at $35 each. No phone calls to warn me. No emails. Nothing. It took me three hours and 6 phone calls to clear that mess up. Their response: “It’s not our fault you don’t read your complete statement.”

        BofA – got wind of the Citi default, lowered my credit limit to almost nothing, and raised my interest rate to the default rate.

        That’s the typical game experienced by most Americans. Credit unions aren’t predatory and they don’t get free money from the Fed to continue a failed business model when they go under. F the big banks. They s*ck.

      • huadpe says:

        Wait, 3% on your savings? I assume this is an old CD or something, because I have scoured high and low for a place to put my emergency fund, and I can’t even find a 10 yr CD paying 3%, let alone a plain old savings acct.

    • dru_zod says:

      I’m getting ready to move all of my savings to a credit union, and then if all goes well, my checking account as well. I currently bank with Wells Fargo. It was First Union when I opened my first account there, then it turned into Wachovia, and now WF. As First Union it was great. As Wachovia, it was mostly okay. As Wells Fargo it’s the biggest PITA in the world. Every time I go inside 80% of the employees have changed. Their “personal bankers,” who are supposed to know how to handle CDs, IRAs, and all the important stuff know absolutely NOTHING. I ask them to do something that they should know how to do and they give me blank stares and then proceed to screw it up. There is ONE guy there who knows how to do pretty much anything, and even the clueless and rude bank manager has to ask him how to do things.
      They also always have a bunch of employees running around who appear to be doing nothing most of the time and will pull people out of the teller line to “assist” them. Then after 12 more people get in the line in front of them, they say “oh, I can’t do that, but the teller will be happy to help you.” I don’t know if all Wells Fargo branches are like this or if it’s just this one.

  2. Lyn Torden says:

    I’ve been looking for a way to switch banks … OFF.

  3. suez says:

    Yeah, I’m learning that. I was with BOA for nearly 15 years and never had any trouble with online payments and auto-notices of bills due–it was easy and fast. Now that I’ve switched to USAA, I’m still having trouble getting things to work properly, even after 3 months. Most of them can’t seem to send me notices or let me bill from my bank’s website, so I’m forced to go to each biller’s website and do it from there–not at all convenient and easy to forget. I’ve called both USAA and the billers, and still no satisfying resolution. ::grumbles::

    • Lyn Torden says:

      USAA is mostly outsourcing banking operations. That just ends up complicating things worse. Find a local bank or credit union, and do another move.

  4. ptkdude says:

    Make sure you do a thorough check for repeating payments… sometimes they’re only once a year. I went back through 14 months of statements, reading every line, to make sure I wouldn’t end up with a charge hitting my closed Chase account.

  5. Lyn Torden says:

    If you cannot close an account as easily as you opened it, then mention that you are adding this to your list of reasons for closing the account, to be included your blog next week.

  6. sherrietee says:

    We’re moving our banks VERY slowly. Nothing against our old bank, mind you, but there are no branches near where we’ve moved. I put some money in the new account and have been trying to pay the mortgage and utilities of the new place from that one, while we slowly shut down the old. Next month, the husband moves his direct deposit over, and then the following pay period, I’ll move mine. Don’t forget, when you change direct deposit, your next paycheck is a LIVE check. Factor that into your plans when you make the change.

  7. George4478 says:

    My switch took 2 months. The first month was the final direct deposit and charges hitting the old account. The second month was making sure everything hit the new account correctly and nothing hit the old account. Then we closed the old account.

    • George4478 says:

      My last three posts have all had an error message when I submitted them. And then they double posted even though I did not resubmit. This one will probably do the same.

    • George4478 says:

      My last three posts have all had an error message when I submitted them. And then they double posted even though I did not resubmit. This one will probably do the same.

  8. George4478 says:

    My switch took 2 months. The first month was the final direct deposit and charges hitting the old account. The second month was making sure everything hit the new account correctly and nothing hit the old account. Then we closed the old account.

  9. Shouhdes says:

    Do it with a gun, it will be MUCH smoother.

  10. bben says:

    I changed to a credit union some years ago. My latest good experience. The ATM outside of a branch screwed up and didn’t give me any money then printed a receipt that said I had withdrawn $200. The CU was technically closed, as it was at least 10 minutes after their closing time on Friday night. An employee was unlocking the door to allow someone out and invited me in to see what could be done. With his assistance, I filled out the proper form. This gentleman stayed well past closing to help me with what had to be a minor problem for them. And he apologized for the inconvenience that he had no control over and gave me his direct phone number if the money wasn’t back in my account within 3 working days. The cash was back in my account the next week with no further action by me.

    Similar problem some years ago with a BOC ATM, took almost 6 weeks, several trips to a branch office, several forms and several phone calls. I felt like They wanted to blame me for a mechanical malfunction of their machine. On the first phone call, they admitted the ATM balance for that day was over. And it still took nearly 6 weeks to clear up.