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How to Close a Bank Account Without Incurring Fees

Bank Accounts

How to Close a Bank Account Without Incurring Fees

You’ve had a long and trying relationship. But the time has finally come to break up for good. 

If this accurately describes you and your bank, it’s important that you go about your breakup the right way. Follow this guide on how to close a bank account so you can make a fresh start without worry.

Find Your New Bank

Before you even contemplate breaking the news to your bank, you need to find a replacement. This is one time that rebounding immediately after a breakup is a good thing. Failing to find a new bank before you ditch your old one could mean one giant financial headache for you.

Finding your perfect bank might seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of resources to help you choose a bank, whether you’re considering an online-only bank, a brick-and-mortar bank or a credit union.

Start the Breakup Process

Once you’ve opened your new bank account, it’s time to start transferring your money.

Make Sure You Have Automatic Payments Covered

Unless you like to live out of a checkbook, chances are you have some (if not all) of your bills paid automatically each month. Those automatic payments are tied to your bank account, so if you close your account before you switch over your payment information, you’ll default on your payments. 

At the very least, that’ll mean late fees. But if you fail to pay something like your phone bill, your provider may cut off service, which could be devastating if you rely on your phone for work.

Transfer Your Balance

After you’ve switched over your automatic payments, it’s time to move your balance over to your new account. It’s a good idea to leave a bit of money in your old account for a short period to cover any automatic payments you may have forgotten about. The last thing you want is to have an overdraft on your old bank account.

Make sure you transfer your money from all your accounts, including checking and savings. 

Give It Some Time

Once you’ve moved your money over to your new account, you might be tempted to cut ties with your old bank right away. But it’s a good idea to leave your old account open for a couple of months just to make sure you don’t have any lingering payments. 

You might also leave a small amount of money ($100 to $200) in the account to cover any surprise payments to avoid overdraft charges.

How to Close a Bank Account

Once you feel confident that everything is in place with your new account, it’s time to begin the process of closing your old one.

Online or in Person

Depending on the type of account you have (and your personal preferences), you can usually either close your account online or in person at a local branch. 

Your bank might also require that you submit a written request. This should include your name, address and account number. If you have multiple accounts at the same bank, make sure you include the numbers of each account you want to close separately. 

Request a Written Letter

In your written request to cancel your bank account, ask for the bank to provide you with written confirmation once the account or accounts are closed. Even if you receive a confirmation letter, it’s still wise to call the bank to double check that everything went through and you didn’t miss any instructions from them to finalize the closure.

Deposit Any Leftovers

After you close your account, your old bank might send you a paper check for any remaining balance from that account. Make sure you deposit that check ASAP into your new account. Most banks have a deposit function in their apps, but you can also take the check to a branch to deposit if you feel more comfortable that way.

Review Your Statement

After you’ve officially closed your account, check your last statement carefully. You want to make sure there aren’t any unexpected charges on there or ones you don’t recognize. If you see anything suspicious, contact your old bank immediately to resolve the issue.

Frequently Asked Questions

Throughout the process, you will probably have some questions about how to close a bank account or hear some terms you don’t understand, such as:

What Are Zombie Accounts?

Some banks automatically reopen closed accounts if a charge is made. This could happen if you forgot to change the details on one of your automatic payments, or if your request to change your auto bill details didn’t go through properly. If this happens, contact your old bank to discuss your options.

Will Closing a Bank Account Hurt My Credit Score?

You probably know that closing a credit card or loan can have a small effect on your credit score. Luckily, closing a checking or savings account has absolutely no effect on your credit, as long as you don’t have a negative balance.

What Happens if I Have a Negative Balance?

If your old account has a negative balance, you will likely need to pay it off before the bank will let you close it. If you manage to close it without paying off your balance, the bank can send it to collections, which will show up on your credit report and hurt your credit score.

Breaking up with your bank can seem daunting, but if you go about it the right way, you can make a clean break and enjoy your new banking relationship with no baggage.

Catherine Hiles is a writer, mother, runner and avid reader. She enjoys cooking (and eating), good beer and spending time with her husband and two young children.

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