Sometimes an old-fashioned letter is the best way to get the job done. To close a bank account, you might be required to mail your request in a traditional letter or submit it in person at a bank branch. There's no need to wait on hold or in a line, explain yourself to customer service, and hope that the account is closed expeditiously—you can just send the letter and be done with it. Even if a letter isn’t required, using one creates a paper trail that may give you peace of mind, should any errors or complications arise.
Use the text below as a template and fill in the information between brackets (“[“ and “]”) as necessary. See the tips below the letter for more details and other easy ways to close an account.
Sample Account Closing Letter
To whom it may concern,
Please close the account(s) listed below. Please send any remaining funds in those accounts by check to the address below, and reject any further requests for transactions in these accounts.
Checking Account: [Account Number]
Savings Account: [Account Number]
Money Market Account: [Account Number]
Other Account: [Account Number]
Please provide written confirmation that the accounts are closed.
If you have any questions, please contact me at the phone number below.
[Account Owner's Original Signature]
[Account Owner’s Printed Name]
Other Ways to Close Your Account
There might be easier ways to close your account. If you don’t want to print, sign, and mail a letter, try a higher-tech or more personal approach. In some cases, banks may prefer one of these methods over a letter. Check your bank's website to see what steps they recommend taking.
Submit an Online Request
Online banks allow you to transfer all of your funds out and request a closure online. It can be as easy as clicking “Close Account.” Other banks require you to write a request to customer service while you’re logged in to your account.
Call Customer Service
A quick phone call might also do the trick. If you’ve got a few minutes, just call customer service and ask to close your account. Be prepared for a few attempts at keeping your business, which you can firmly (but politely) decline.
Tips for a Successful Account Closure
In many cases, submitting a written, online, or over-the-phone request is all you need to do to close an account. However, you can take extra steps to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. Before you finalize your account closure, review these optional steps and special scenarios.
Make Sure You're Done
Before closing your account, double-check to make sure there are no outstanding checks or automatic payments scheduled to hit your account. Change your direct deposit instructions to your new account, and wait to see that the update has taken place before you close an account.
Empty It Yourself
It is usually best to empty your bank account before you send the letter to close it. In most cases, transferring the funds yourself will get the money in your hands more quickly than if you wait for the bank to process your request.
If you do it yourself, you’ll know exactly when and where to expect the money. The alternative is to wait for a check in the mail (which you’ll have to deposit before you can withdraw and spend the money). Be careful not to empty your old account too soon if there are pending fees or charges. A fee or charge that you can't cover could complicate and delay the process.
Be Direct, But Polite
To close your bank account, you just need to make the request (whether it’s in writing or by clicking a button). The wording isn't the most important thing. It’s not necessary to instruct them to do it “promptly” or “immediately” because they will do it as soon as possible anyway.
Banks do not drag their feet on these things until somebody notices and applies pressure. Just make it easy for the person who opens your letter (tell them exactly what to do and where to send the money), and it’s more likely to get done quickly and accurately. If you have complaints about the bank or its services, send that feedback separately and wait until after your account is closed.
Download Statements or Transactions
Once you close your account, you may lose access to your account history. Someday, you may wish you had a record of an important transaction. Download several years’ worth of statements before you close your account—just in case. Alternatively, download your transactions into a software program that stores the information for you.
You May Need to Provide an Original Signature
You may be required to sign your letter with ink, rather than with an e-signature or stamp, depending on bank policy. If a bank asks for a written letter, a component of that requirement may include a real signature in order to authorize the account closure.
Use Wire Transfers or Cashier's Checks in Time-Sensitive Situations
If you really need the money to move immediately and be available for spending, send the money to your new account by wire transfer. Alternatively, get a cashier's check, which will cost a bit less and still provide "cleared" funds.
Changes of Address Can Delay the Process
If you’re closing the account because you’ve moved, be aware that bank policies typically only allow them to send funds to your address of record (the address they currently have on file at the bank). Address changes followed by check requests could potentially raise a red flag—they could worry an identity thief is attempting to steal your money. If the bank questions the legitimacy of the transfer, you may have to wait longer for your money, or you may have to do additional paperwork and get your request notarized.
Ask your bank what is required to mail a check to a new address (better yet, get the money out yourself, as described above).
If you use a credit union, you might not need to close your account just because you've moved. Many credit unions participate in shared branching, which allows you to use a different credit union's branches (with thousands of locations available to you nationwide). You might eventually need an account at a local institution for more complex needs—or you might be just fine using your old account.
Use an App to Deposit the Check
If the bank sends a check for the leftover money in the closed account, you'll need to deposit that check somewhere—and many people these days hardly ever deal with paper checks. The easiest way to make that deposit is with your new bank's mobile app (if available).
Verify the Closure
Don’t just assume your instructions will be followed. Double-check by logging in to your account or calling the bank to ensure that your account is closed. Sometimes instructions get lost, or something needs to be done before you can close the account. If you’re not aware of problems that arise, you risk having inactivity charges or low balance fees charged to your account. They might not be your fault, but it’s easier to clean everything up while it’s fresh in your mind.
The Bottom Line
While not always required, using a hand-signed letter to request an account closure is an easy way to add an extra layer of financial protection. If any complications or errors occur during the process, you have handwritten and dated proof of key details like what exactly you requested, when you requested it, and where any remaining funds were supposed to go—just remember to keep a copy for yourself.
If the process does go awry at some point, make sure to reach out as soon as you notice the discrepancies. Be direct in your conversations with customer service, but don't burn bridges. Rude comments won't speed up the process, only clear communication will.