How to Switch Banks in 5 Steps

Are rude tellers, outrageous fees or measly interest rates among your bank’s claims to fame? Enough already!

You shouldn’t have to put up with that, especially with so many banks waiting for your business. Why waste your time and money on an institution you hate?

Switching banks may seem like a royal pain, but it’s really not. Here are five steps to make the process painless:

Step No. 1: Review your options

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This step is likely the one you’ll spend the most time on, but don’t rush the process. You don’t want to trade one bad bank for another. In fact, after your research, you may find you don’t want a new bank at all. You may discover a credit union is your best bet for financial bliss.

Everyone’s priorities are different, but here’s what you may want to consider when looking for the best financial institution for your money:

  • Monthly cost of a checking account, and whether you can avoid paying it
  • Overdraft fees and overdraft protection options, as well as their cost
  • ATM availability, and fees for using out-of-network machines
  • Online features such as bill payment services and mobile account access
  • Branch locations and hours — if you still like the personal touch
  • Perks such as credit card or debit card rewards
  • Ability to bundle all banking needs at one institution — such as checking, savings, loans and investments
  • Current promotions for new customers

In addition to looking at local institutions, don’t forget to check out online banks, also called internet banks.

These can offer competitive services and easy account access online and through ATMs, as we detail in “Why It’s Time to Consider Internet Banks.”

For more ideas, read “10 Tips to Get More Bang From Your Bank.”

Step No. 2: Ask for a switch kit

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Once you’ve settled on a new bank or credit union, ask if they have a switch kit.

Some institutions offer a packet of forms and information to help guide you through the process of switching banks. Contents may include direct deposit forms, worksheets and checklists.

As part of a switch kit, you may also get a form to mail to your old bank asking it to close your account. That can be handy, but hold onto the form. You don’t want to use it just yet.

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