What to Do When Your Bank is Acquired

bank aquisitions

 Getty Images/Peter Dazeley

Bank mergers are more common than most people think. According to the Federal Reserve, there were 274 bank merger requests in 2018.

Banks are acquired by other banks for a variety of reasons, including a desire to scale a business, owners retiring, and cost efficiency. Just because your bank is being acquired doesn’t mean you need to jump ship or find another bank. Often the process goes very smoothly.

That’s because, most of the time when banks are acquired or merge, they try to keep as many customers satisfied as possible in order to retain their customer base. It’s in their best interest to keep you happy.

The challenge is that when banks merge, sometimes they do eliminate or add product lines and/or branches and ATM networks. And sometimes they change fee structures and interest rates on accounts. This can lead to dissatisfaction and frustration for some consumers.

If you’re dealing with a bank acquisition here are some things you should know in order to make the process of transferring to a new bank as smooth as possible.

CDs and Mortgages Don’t Change in a Bank Acquisition

This is good news for most consumers because these are agreements that are signed for and generally have fixed terms; CDs and mortgages don’t usually change in a bank acquisition. Normally, with a mortgage, you simply change who you make your check out to, and if you have automatic payments then often nothing will change at all.

In either case, the interest rate and term of your mortgage will stay exactly the same in a merger or acquisition.

CDs work the same way. The bank will continue paying the CD interest rate at the agreed upon and making an early withdrawal of the money in your certificate of deposit account will incur the same penalties agreed to when you took out the CD.

Be Aware of FDIC Insurance Limits

If you have bank accounts at both of the banks that are involved in the acquisition process it’s possible that your accounts may end up being over the $250,000 deposit limit that qualifies for FDIC insurance for a single institution.

It's important to note that the FDIC will insure accounts from the old bank separately for six months, but after that, you need to make sure your assets are held at separate institutions if you have more than the $250,000 limit in one institution and you want federal insurance on your accounts.

Keep Updated on Announcements

Bank acquisitions happen slowly because banking is a highly regulated industry. Usually, an acquisition will take between 120 and 180 days to complete. During that time the banks involved will usually send out notices of any changes to policies and accounts. These notices sometimes come by email and sometimes by regular mail.

By reading those notices you will know what is going on and if the bank plans on making any changes to products you own which can help you to know if you will want to change banks after the acquisition is complete.

Use a Merger and Bank Acquisition as an Opportunity to Get Better Rates

If you are currently banking at a brick and mortar bank, you can use a merger as an opportunity to look at new products and take advantage of the new online-only banks to get much better interest rates on checking and savings accounts as well as CDs.

Online-only banks can take some getting used to, but if you are willing to do most of your banking online and at ATMs, then you can get interest rates that are sometimes 40 to 100 times higher than traditional brick and mortar banks.

An acquisition may not change much at the bank being acquired, but it can give you the push you need to see if there is a better deal for you in terms of fees and interest rates.

For instance, right now Bank5 Connect is offering a .76 percent interest rate on checking accounts with a small $100 deposit. That’s over 100 times higher than the average checking interest rate of .06 percent.

Normally bank mergers and acquisitions are done in a way to make it as smooth as possible for existing bank customers. By being aware of the process and any changes that are happening you can make the best decision for yourself in regards to where you bank.