November 20, 2018

How to Close a Bank Account

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Closing a bank account takes more work than opening one. Follow these easy steps to simplify the process and avoid unwanted fees.

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1. Decide where to move your money

Unless you're planning to cash out the account, you'll need to transfer your funds somewhere else. You can choose an existing account or open one at a new bank.

2. Switch your Direct Deposit

If you have already set-up Direct Deposit payments through work or other sources like Social Security, be sure to switch them to your new account.

This can often be done online. Otherwise, a Human Resources representative or caseworker can assist you. Have your new account AND routing number handy to save time.

Avoiding Unnecessary Fees: Many banks waive monthly "maintenance fees" for customers who use Direct Deposit. Canceling this feature may incur those charges unless you meet other criteria like maintaining a required minimum balance. Check with your bank to be sure.

3. Cancel or transfer Auto-Payments

These may include monthly car payments; rent or mortgage bills; gym memberships and subscriptions like Netflix or Hulu. In most cases, you can add your new bank information to make the change instantly to those accounts.

Avoiding Unnecessary Fees: Check your previous monthly statement or online transaction history for any Auto-Payments you may have forgotten. Missing one can result in an overdraft fee or delay the closure of your account.

3. Stop using the account

Allow about two weeks to ensure all automatic transactions have transferred successfully. If you are closing a checking account, this should also allow time for any outstanding checks to clear.

Avoid using your debit card during this time. You can still withdraw money as needed from an ATM, but be sure to stay above the monthly minimum balance.

4. Empty the account

You can now make an online transfer to move all funds from the old account to the new one. This service is typically free, though some banks limit individual transfer amounts. It may take 2-3 days for the money to clear.

5. Close the account

Once the funds have appeared in the new account, you can proceed to cancel your account. Do this as quickly as possible to avoid fees.

Most banks require you to close an account in-person or by phone, though some do allow online closures. If you visit a branch location, you'll need the account number and a valid form of photo identification, like a driver's license, state I.D. or passport. You may also have to complete a short form.

If any money remains, the bank will give you a certified (cashier's) with the remaining balance. For closures over the phone, the check will be mailed to your address.

Tip: Ask for documentation. Request written proof that your account has been officially closed. You should receive a form letter within 10-14 business days along with your final account statement.

6. Protect yourself

Make sure to destroy the debit or ATM card, checks, and any deposit slips associated with the closed account. File all paperwork, including the closure letter and final statement, in a safe place.


Closing your bank account may require some extra planning, but it doesn't need to be a hassle. Take the proper steps to streamline the process and avoid any fees.

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