How to Change Bank Accounts

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If you’re moving to a new city or changing banks for another reason, it isn’t difficult to close your old account or open a new one. However, you need to do things in the correct order to avoid fees and other problems. Knowing the steps to take, and when to take them, will ensure that the switch is as smooth as possible.

Things You'll Need

  • Checkbook from your old account
  • List of automatic deposits and payments
  • Old checks
  • Old ATM or debit card
  • Safe deposit box keys

Changing Banks

Open your new account. Set up a checking account at your new bank before closing your old account. Getting new checks and a new ATM or debit card ensures that you have access to your money throughout the transition.

Stop using your old account. Let any outstanding checks clear, which could take more than two weeks. This helps keep you from bouncing checks and incurring fees. It also makes it easier to balance your checkbook, which helps you to know whether your old bank is paying you the correct final amount from your account as you're changing banks.

Stop all of the direct deposits and automatic withdrawals from your old account. Don't forget about any automatic payments for your insurance premiums or contributions to your individual retirement account. To avoid being rushed and possibly forgetting about a bill as you're changing banks, start moving these to your new checking account about a month before you plan to close the old one.

Clean out your safe deposit box. Collect any important documents or valuables you have stored at your old bank and turn in your box keys.

Close your old account. Go to your old bank in person or write a letter that includes your checking account number. Ask the bank to send you the money left in your account. If you are moving, give the bank your new address and phone number. Make sure the bank also closes any cash-reserve or overdraft-protection accounts that you have with the account. Update your personal financial records to reflect that you closed the checking account.

Shred any unused checks from your old account and destroy your old ATM or debit card when you are done changing banks. That way, no one will be able to steal them, and you won't use the checks by mistake.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check your credit report over the next several years to confirm that no fraudulent activity is taking place with your old account.
  • If you have had a credit card through your old bank for a long time, consider keeping it, especially if it your oldest credit account. Closing it may lower your credit score.

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