How to Close Your Checking Account

A check
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When you move or decide to change banks, you will need to close your existing checking account. This is a relatively simple process, but there are certain steps you should take to ensure that you close your account correctly and don't get hit with any overdraft charges, fees, or other issues. Follow these easy steps to make sure you close your checking account successfully. 

Open Your New Account

First, you want to open your new checking account. This will ensure that you have an account in place when you start moving over direct deposits, debits, and other payments.

When choosing a new bank, be sure to consider its proximity to your home (or ease of online banking), account minimums and fees, or additional accounts that you may want to pair with your checking account, such as a savings account or even a money market account or certificates of deposit (CD).

Allow All Charges to Clear

Next, you'll need to stop using your checking account for payments, and allow all existing charges to clear completely before you close the account. Be sure to check online to see which transactions are still outstanding. It also helps to keep a running balance or scrutinize your check register from the checkbook for your account so that you know what has cleared and what's still outstanding. 

Next, cancel all automatic payments you have set up through your old account; the last thing you want is an automatic payment to go through on your old account and get hit with overdraft fees or worse, the payment not go through. This may take a billing cycle or two, so you may have to manually pay some bills in the meantime. 

Make a list of your recurring payments, then mark them off once you've canceled them through your old account and set them up with your new account.

Move Your Money

The next step you should take when closing your account is to transfer your money from your old checking account to your new checking account. Again, be extra mindful of any pending charges on your old account, so you don't overdraft the account or incur any fees. Also, be sure to see if your old bank has a transfer limit, as many banks limit the amount you can transfer or withdraw at one time.

Once everything has cleared your account, you're ready to close it. If you do not go in person you will need to write a letter requesting that the bank close your account. Important items to include are your name, address, and account number. You can also request to have a letter sent to you to confirm that your account has been closed.

Close Related Accounts

Another important step to take when closing your checking account is to ensure that any related accounts are closed since many checking accounts offer a free savings account. You can request that additional accounts are closed in the same letter you use to close your bank account.

It's essential to ensure that you close any other accounts tied to your name, as it could potentially cause issues if your identity is stolen or someone tries to reopen the account in your name.

Destroy Your Checks and Debit Card

It's also important that you take steps to avoid accidentally using the old checks or debit card, or having someone use them fraudulently.

Once you have requested your account to be closed, shred any remaining checks and cut up your debit card. Be sure the shreddings are disposed of properly. You may even want to take advantage of your town or city's shred day, during which citizens can safely shred and dispose of sensitive documents.

Keep Records on File

When you receive your confirmation letter that your account has been closed, keep the letter on file with your account information for a few years. You'll want to keep this on hand for a few years in case of fraudulent activity on your old account.

Keep an eye on your ChexSystems report, to make sure nothing else happens with the closed account or bank. If you do see any charges on that account or with your old bank, contact the bank immediately.

Final tips:

  • Open your new account before you close your old account. This allows you continued access to your money. It is also helpful if you are moving, so you can continue to have access to your funds to pay movers, rental cars, and other related costs during the move.
  • Be sure that you stop all direct deposits such as your paycheck, automatic transfers to savings, and withdrawals from your account. You should do this about a month before you close your account. These include things like gym membership fees, insurance payments, and other household bills.
  • When you look for a new account, consider the minimum balance requirements and fees that you may incur at your new bank. Also be sure to educate yourself on withdrawal and transfer limits.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does it take to close a bank account?

Closing an account can happen quickly, especially if you've done the work beforehand to make it a smooth process. The part that takes the longest is transferring funds to a new account. That can take up to a week or so. If your account has already been emptied, then having the conversation or filling out the form that closes your account should only take a few minutes.

How much does it cost to close a bank account?

Most banks will let you close your account for free. However, if your account holds timed deposits, then you may have to pay fees related to early withdrawals. For example, CDs typically charge fees when you withdraw your funds before the CD matures.

How do you close a joint bank account?

The process for closing a joint bank account is the same as closing a single-owner bank account. Depending on the institution, you may need each joint owner to independently confirm the closure. Other institutions let any joint owner close the account, just as they'd let any joint owner withdraw as much of the funds as they want.