How to Successfully Switch Banks

If you are going to go through the effort, you'll want to make sure you're making the best choice for you to successfully switch banks.

Also, not leaving enough money in the old account or closing it too quickly can lead to fees if automatic payments are charged to the old account. Here's how to switch banks as smoothly as possible.

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  • Open the new bank account.
  • Move over any automatic payments and direct deposits.
  • Maintain both accounts for a while to make sure everything is switched over before closing the old account.

Switch banks: Choose your new account

If you want to switch banks, the first thing you need to do is to open a new account. There are a few things to consider when looking for a new bank account. 

Account fees

Make note of things like ATM fees, monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, etc. It’s not unusual to have fees, but the fewer they have, the better for you, so don’t be afraid to shop around.

If the account has a monthly fee, find out if you can have it waived. Typically this requires maintaining a minimum balance in the account or having a direct deposit. 

Branch locations

Do you want to be able to visit the bank in person? If so, that will limit your choices to brick-and-mortar banks. Make sure that the bank has locations in areas that will be important to you, such as near your home and work. 

If you don’t need to visit the bank in person, then an online-only bank will suit you just fine. 

Online banking features

Most banks these days have fully functional online banking features. But if you need specific services ask customer service if those services are available. 

You can also read reviews online to see what other people’s experiences have been. 

ATM accessibility

If you need access to an ATM you'll want to know which ATM network the bank participates in. Common ones are Allpoint, MoneyPass, and Co-op. If you travel and want to be able to use an ATM make sure they have international ATMs as well.

Some banks will also reimburse ATM fees, typically up to a small limit such as four per month.

Customer service

Read some online reviews to get a feel for the customer service that people have received in the past. But keep in mind that people tend to only review banks when they've had a bad experience. So look for patterns in the reviews instead of focusing on the individual reviews.

Also, compare the overall score to competing banks. If the bank you are considering as 2 stars but so do all the others, then it's likely to average service rather than an actual 2-star experience.

You can also take the measure of customer service by calling and asking some questions about the account. This will give you some first-hand experience.

Welcome offers

Sometimes banks have special welcome offers for new customers. This could potentially mean a few hundred dollars just for going through the effort of switching to a new bank.

If the account has a welcome offer, make sure you fully understand all the hoops you have to jump through to earn it. Typically this is having your direct deposits hit within a certain amount of time after you open the account. It may also include a certain number of debit card transactions in a set period of time. You'll want to make sure that you follow all the directions exactly or you'll miss out on your bonus.

Check out our list of best-checking accounts.

Switch banks: Open your new account

Opening a new account is fairly straightforward. You can probably do this online on the bank's website.

You'll need some basic information such as your social security number, and address, and you may have to upload a picture of your government-issued ID.

If the account has an initial deposit requirement you'll also want to be prepared to deposit that as well. You'll need the account information from your current bank account to make this transfer.

When you have the account open, make a note of the routing number and account number as well as when your debit cards will be arriving.

You'll probably also want to download the bank's mobile app and get signed in.

Switch banks: Redirect all your automatic transactions

Once you have your new checking account open you'll want to start moving over your direct deposit and any automatic payments to the new account.

Contact your HR department to see about moving your direct deposits. You'll need the routing number and account number of the new bank account. Keep in mind that this rarely happens quickly, depending on your employer it can take a few payment cycles. You'll want to keep a close eye on this as it could cause overdraft fees if your paycheck is being deposited into an account you weren't expecting.

Once you have your debit card, you'll want to start moving over any automatic payments you have coming out of your old account. Go through your past bank statements and make a list of any payments you need to switch and then contact each company individually to give them your new card info.

Switch banks: Keep both accounts for a while

Unfortunately switching to a new financial institution isn't fast. You'll probably need to keep both accounts open for a few weeks to make sure that everything is moved over properly.

What you don't want is for a transaction to come through after you've closed the old account. This could cause fees both from the bank and the company. You'll want to ensure all checks have cleared (if you write checks) and that you've caught all the recurring payments.

Don't forget about the IRS. If you are waiting for a tax refund, which can take weeks or even months, you'll want to leave the account open until you receive the money.

If you've gone 30 days or more without any transactions on the old bank account, and you can't think of anything that might be pending out there, then you are likely safe to withdraw the remaining funds and close your old account.

Woman at the bank to open new account. Guide to successfully switch banks.

FAQs

Should I choose a bank or a credit union?

That depends on what you are looking for in a financial institution. Credit unions typically have lower fees and higher interest rates than banks. However, they may not have all the features and technology that a bank may have.

Do I have to switch banks when I move?

Not necessarily. If your bank is local to your old area you may decide that it's more convenient to switch banks. However, if you continue to be happy with your old bank there is no reason to open an account at a new bank.

How long does it take to switch banks?

It's probably going to take between 30 and 60 days to fully make the switch to a new bank account. It will also mean having a little extra money on hand while you are in transition. You'll need to keep money in both accounts while you ensure that all the automatic bill payments and automatic deposits are moved over to your new account. 

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I'm an award-winning lawyer and personal finance expert featured in Inc. Magazine, CNBC, the Today Show, Business Insider and more. My mission is to make personal finance accessible for everyone. As the largest financial influencer in the world, I'm connected to a community of over 20 million followers across TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. I'm also the host of the podcast Erika Taught Me. You might recognize me from my viral tagline, "I read the fine print so you don't have to!"

I'm a graduate of Georgetown Law, where I founded the Georgetown Law Entrepreneurship Club, and the University of Notre Dame. I discovered my passion for personal finance after realizing I was drowning in over $200,000 of student debt and needed to take action-ultimately paying off my student loans in under 2 years. I then spent years as a corporate lawyer representing Fortune 500 companies, but I quit because I realized I wanted to have an impact; I wanted to help real people and teach them that you can create a financial future for yourself.

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Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. This in no way affects our recommendations or article content.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. This in no way affects our recommendations or article content.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. This in no way affects our recommendations or article content.