Since the financial crisis began a couple of years ago and banks found themselves on the hot seat with regulators and their customers, many consumers have gone through the process of switching banks over the past several months. Bank customers are looking for banks that simplify the banking process and make it easy and comfortable for their customers. People want banks that make it easier to save, to view accounts and carry out transactions online, and to understand the fee structure which is a major source of confusion at some banks.
When switching banks, there is a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it. If you’re making a switch because of a bad experience, you’re likely to rush through the process and create hassles and headaches that are avoidable with careful planning. A recent survey showed that 11% of bank customers move their accounts to different banks every year. The number would likely be much higher if the process wasn’t so difficult and cumbersome. Taking the time to do it right is worth the extra few weeks that the process can take.
Open Your New Account: The first step is to open an account at your new bank so that you have a place with an account number to transfer everything into. Talk to a banker and tell them what you’re trying to accomplish so that they can provide with information and resources that might be helpful during your transition. It’s ok to put some money in the new account right away, but leave plenty in your old account to cover anything that might get processed there over the next few weeks. Order checks, a debit card, and anything else you might need to start moving your transactions to the new bank.
Move Your Direct Deposits: Look at your past few months’ worth of bank statements and highlight all the deposits that were made. Any deposits that occurred electronically or automatically will need to be moved to your new bank. To move deposits from your employer, contact your HR department and fill out the necessary paperwork. Contact each other depositor to your account and have them begin making deposits to your new account as soon as possible.
Move your Automatic Payments: Setting up automatic bill payments is a great way to avoid late or missed payments but it can be a hassle to make changes to where these payments come from. Make a list of each payment that leaves your account automatically every month and talk to the receiving parties to switch the account that the payments originate from. Some recipients have an online tool that makes it easy to switch while others will ask for a request from you in writing. Allow at least 2 weeks for the switches to be enacted.
Close Your Old Account: It’s a good idea to leave you old account open for up to three months after you think everything has moved just in case something occurs in the account that you weren’t expecting. Checks sometimes come in several weeks after they were written, unexpected deposits are sometimes made, and it’s a good idea to keep the account open in case of anything unexpected. After you’re sure that everything has cleared the account it will be ready to be closed.