How To Close Bank Accounts: Steps To Take and Important Considerations

Dayton Uttinger  | 

Everyone needs a bank account, but there are a variety of options to choose from these days. Whether you’re ready to switch to a different type of bank, such as a credit union, or you’re just not satisfied with your own bank anymore,there are important steps you need to take before you initiate the switch. However, before you trash all your old bank statements, you’ll need to close your account.

Find a New Bank and Open an Account

Don’t close an account unless you have somewhere new to put your money. First, shop around for the best bank for you. You can prioritize convenience, business practices, or just straight finances. If all else fails, ask friends and family if they’re happy with their bank, and whether they have any recommendations..

Once you find the right bank, open an account with them. You’ll usually need your Social Security card, proof of address, and another form of government ID. Banks also often have a minimum deposit amount for new accounts, so be sure to ask how much that would be before filing out all the paperwork.

Update Auto Payment and Direct Deposit Information

In today’s world, you likely have several payments automatically tied to your bank account. If you’ve enrolled in auto payment for your utility bills, rent, or subscription services, then your existing bank account will still automatically be charged. In order to avoid late payments or bill confusion, update those accounts with your new bank information. The same goes for direct deposit. You’ll want to make sure that all of your paychecks and payments alike are going into the right place!

Ensure You Have No Pending Transactions

Make sure that you have no pending transactions tied to your old bank account. Otherwise, there might be overdraft fees incurred by closing the account prematurely.

Either run through your checkbook or view your live statement online to check for any pending transactions. Additionally, keep track of any recent checks you may have written. Give those a few days to clear, and avoid using cards tied to those account in the coming days.

Transfer Your Money

Before you can close your account, you’ll want to fill your new one. Begin moving money from your old account to new.

Be aware of any withdrawal limits your account might have. Depending on how much you have in your account and how much the limit is, it could take a few days to transfer all your money.

Request to Close Your Accounts

Ask your old bank to close your accounts. If you have not completely emptied your old account, then you’ll receive the remaining balance as a check. On the other hand, if you have a negative balance, you will not be able to close the accounts at all.

Be sure to close all of your accounts, or it could lead to confusion or identity theft later on. Most checking accounts come with a free savings account, so be sure to close both.

Some banks might have fees associated with closing an account. There’s not much you can do to avoid this if it is your bank’s policy. Just take solace in the fact that they won’t be your bank for long.

Ask Documentation of the Accounts Being Canceled

Some people have reported fraudulent activity with accounts they thought had been closed. In order to avoid being taken advantage of, make sure you receive written documentation of the accounts being closed. That way, if ever anyone claims you owe them money from that account, you’ll have proof that you asked for the accounts to be closed.

How Long Does It Take to Close a Bank Account?

This will depend on how diligently you go through this process, how many pending transactions you have, and your banks’ policies. It can take a couple months, or it can be done in a weekend.

Being prepared with necessary documents and asking questions ahead of time will ensure a smooth transition.

Can You Close a Bank Account Online?

This will entirely depend on your old bank. Some allow you to close accounts online, others will force you to do so in person. You can look online for your bank’s policy or you can call their customer service line and ask a representative.

How to Close a Bank Account Online

If you bank does allow you to close an account online, it can be the more convenient option. Some banks are online-only, and they will undoubtedly have a path for you to follow.

However, if your bank operates both online and in-person, then online closure can be a bit trickier. Some customers have luck by requesting account closure in the chat boxes that pop up when you log in to their online portal. Otherwise, you’ll likely have to make your request over the phone or in-person.

Hopefully, this is the beginning of a better relationship with your new bank. Keep the documentation of account closure, just in case, but otherwise you’re free to move forward.


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Dayton is a chronic Wikipedia addict, which is detrimental to her social life but stellar for her writing. She resides in Boise, ID, surrounded by her own frantic outlines, highlighted encyclopedias, and potatoes. The latter was not by choice.

This post was updated January 29, 2019. It was originally published February 5, 2019.