“Not happy with your bank? Changing banks isn’t as complicated as you’d think.”
Recent high profile fee increases by Bank of America, Wells Fargo and other large institutions have more people than ever answering “yes” to this question and contemplating a change in their primary banking relationship.
A survey conducted by J.D. Power and Associates found that two of every three bank customers have considered moving their money. So what’s stopping them? The perception that firing your bank and moving to a new institution is just too difficult.
Pull the Roots
Anyone can open an account at a new bank. It’s actually moving your financial life that’s challenging. Changing your banking relationship is a lot like pulling weeds. If you focus only on what you can see, then you’ll never get rid of them. To really make a move, you have to go for the roots of your banking relationship. For years, banks have encouraged their customers to deepen their roots in the bank by setting up direct deposits and automatic debits to and from their accounts. These transactions are easy for the customer. Since they require no effort on our behalf, they are out of sight and out of mind.
The first step towards making a switch requires you to look at your most recent bank statement and make a list of everything that’s automatically coming and going from your account each month. Automatic payments are usually distinguished on bank statements with an “ACH” code or by inclusion of a reference number. Additionally, it is important to make a note of any payments that are automatically charged to your debit card each month.
You’ve identified everything that’s coming and going from your current account. It’s time to open up a new account at the bank of your choice and “fertilize” it by getting your money flowing into that account.
When you open your new account, request temporary checks or some other documentation that lists your new account number and the bank’s routing number. You will need to provide this information to your employer or whomever is responsible for your direct deposit.
While most of your upcoming deposits will start going into your new account, it is important to leave some money in your old account to cover any pending payments.
Now that your money is flowing into your new account, contact the companies with whom you currently have automatic payments set up and let them know that you’d like to switch your account information. In the digital world, many companies allow you to go online and submit this information, significantly cutting down on the time it will take you to complete the process.
Once you are confident that all transactions to your old account have been transferred it’s time to close the account. At most banks, this can be done at the teller line, if you’ll just ask the teller to zero out the account and close it. You are not required to provide a reason or sit down with anyone to discuss why you’re closing your account.
Need Help? – Go Local
Local community banks typically have staff dedicated to opening new accounts and assisting customers make the transfer. In fact, many local banks will be able to assist you in making the transition even easier as they are able to help make those account transfers on your behalf while keeping you informed of their progress along the way. Stop by your local bank and ask if there is someone who can help you grow your financial life with them.
This information is provided with the understanding that the association is not engaged in rendering specific legal, accounting, or other professional services. If specific expert assistance is required, the services of a competent, professional person should be sought.
Provided as a public service by the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers.