How to Close a Bank Account

Banking

At some point, you might find that your bank account no longer meets your needs. Maybe you’d like a higher interest rate. Or perhaps you’d prefer fewer fees.

No matter what your situation may be, rest assured it’s fairly simple to close a bank account. Here’s everything you need to know about how to close a bank account.

Reasons to Close a Bank Account

Even though you don’t need a specific reason to close a bank account, there’s a good chance you have one or two. Some of the most common reasons to say goodbye to your current account and look for a new one include:

  • You’re moving and want a bank with physical locations in your new home.
  • You want better interest rates on your checking accounts or savings accounts.
  • You’re ready to switch from a brick-and-mortar bank to an online bank.
  • You’re displeased with the customer service at your current bank.
  • You found more appealing products and services elsewhere.
  • You’re making the change from a child account to an adult account.
  • You’d like to open a joint account rather than being the sole account owner.
  • You want to consolidate your bank accounts.
  • You’re tired of paying expensive fees.

Steps to Close a Bank Account

You might be surprised to learn that closing a bank account is more involved than simply calling your bank and giving them a heads-up. While the specific steps for closing an account will depend on your bank or credit union, here’s a general overview of what you can expect.

1. Open a New Account

First and foremost, it’s important to have a new account lined up. Fortunately, there are countless bank accounts available so you should have no problem finding one that meets your needs. Depending on your situation, you might look for an account with these features:

  • Minimal to no fees: Many bank accounts come with fees that you may want to avoid or limit. These include monthly maintenance fees, service fees, out-of-network ATM fees, insufficient funds fees, and wire transfer fees.
  • Easy access to funds: Chances are you’d like the ability to transfer money quickly and conveniently. If so, an extensive branch or ATM network should be on your radar.
  • Great customer service: Since you’ll likely have questions or concerns or require assistance with your bank account at some point, excellent customer service is likely your priority.
  • Customer perks: You may be interested in an account with unique perks, such as sub accounts to organize your savings, a sign-up bonus, money management accounts, and giveaways.

With a new bank account in place, you’ll have somewhere to transfer direct deposits, payments, and debts. Whether you choose an online bank or a traditional brick-and-mortar bank, make sure you’re satisfied with your account before moving on to the next steps.

2. Switch Your Direct Deposits and Automatic Payments

If you’ve set up any direct deposits or automatic payments or automatic transactions in which you use to pay bills, it’s time to move them to your new bank account. To reroute your paycheck, you might have to contact your employer and fill out a form with your updated direct deposit information.

Reviewing your bank statements from the past 12 months is a good idea. Make a list of every automatic transaction, including the amount and the date it is typically deposited or due. Automated transactions and payments to consider include mortgages, car payments, student loans, credit cards, personal loans, and various bill payments.

Furthermore, keep an eye out for streaming services, gym memberships, utilities, and other household bills. Once you have a list of all of your direct deposits and automatic transfers, you’ll be prepared to transfer them to your new checking account or savings account.

3. Transfer Your Money

While you may be tempted to move all the money out of your account right away, you should wait until your outstanding transactions have cleared completely. Otherwise, you may be on the hook for costly overdraft fees.

If everything has cleared and you still have funds in the account, you can withdraw them or transfer them to your new account. If your new bank account imposes minimum balance requirements, only transfer money out of your old bank account when you’re ready to close it. This can save you from a monthly service fee.

4. Contact Your Bank

Now, you’ll need to reach out to your bank or credit union so you can officially close your account. In most cases, you’ll be able to do this online but you may have to call customer service or go to a nearby bank branch.

Furthermore, you might have to complete an account closure request form or submit a written request. If you do have to send a written letter, include your account information, such as your account name and account number.

Be sure to adhere to the rules of your particular financial institution. Once you do contact your bank, they’ll likely check your account to ensure it’s in good standing. This is to ensure there are no negative balances, pending payments, or issues you need to resolve. If you meet these criteria, your bank close should happen fairly quickly.

5. Ask for Written Confirmation

In a perfect world, your account will close right away. But the reality is that your closure might not be your bank’s priority. Therefore, it’s a good idea to request for a written confirmation that your account has been closed. This way you’ll have a paper trail if an issue or dispute arises down the road.

6. Review Your Final Bank Statement

Since identity theft and fraud are more common today than ever before, you’ll want to review your last bank statement carefully. Make sure there weren’t any unauthorized transactions made before you canceled your account. If you come across a transaction you don’t recognize, reach out to your bank right away.

Potential Costs of Closing an Account

As long as you’re strategic about it, you should be able to avoid fees when you close a bank account and switch to a new one. The following fees might apply, depending on the age of the account, the rules of your bank or credit union regarding account closures, and how you plan the close:

  • Early account closure fee: If you shut down your account before it reaches a certain maturity, like 90 days, for example, you may face an early account closure fee of $10 to $50.
  • Overdraft/NSF fee: This fee is for unexpected automatic payments or bounced checks that may pop up when you transition from one account to the next. It may be anywhere from $27 to $35.
  • Stop payment fee: Stop banks and credit unions charge a stop payment fee of $30 to $36 if you stop an outstanding check from clearing as you’re switching bank accounts.
  • Monthly maintenance fee: You may face a monthly maintenance fee of $2 to $16 if you keep your old account open and its balance drops below the minimum daily requirement.
  • ACH transfer fee: An ACH transfer fee of up to $5 might apply if you move remaining funds from your old account to your new one.
  • Wire transfer fee: Your new and old bank may impose wire transfer fees of up to $35 if you transfer funds from your old account to new one.

How to Ensure a Seamless Transition

To increase your chances of an easy, predictable transition to a new bank account, consider these tips.

  • Inquire about a switch kit: Some financial institutions offer switch kids, which simplify the process of moving to a new bank. While switch kits vary, most of them are available online and include special forms you’ll need to fill out.
  • Call in advance: If you have plans to close your account in person at a local branch, be sure to contact your bank ahead of time. You might have to schedule an appointment or come by during certain hours.
  • Collect all your documents: Don’t forget to gather your documents, such as a government-issued ID like a driver’s license or passport or your Social Security number as you might need them to verify your account.
  • Get rid of the remnants of your old account: Chances are you have debit cards or checkbooks linked to your old accounts. Dispose of them to reduce the risk of them getting lost, stolen, or used accidentally.
  • Don’t avoid closing your account: If you want to switch banks, you might just keep your account at the old bank account open to avoid the hassle. If you do so, you might incur unexpected fees that can add up quickly. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to shut down your account before you move to a new bank.

How to Close Certain Types of Bank Accounts

Not all bank accounts are created equal. For this reason, the process of closing them varies slightly. Here are some details on how to close certain types of bank accounts.

Joint Account

If you have a joint account you wish to close, your bank may ask for the signatures of both account holders. They may also only require the authorization of one account holder. It all depends on your bank’s unique rules.

See also: How to Close a Joint Bank Account

Child’s Account

Once your child turns 18, your bank might automatically convert their minor account into a regular account. However, don’t assume this is true as you might have to fill out a request form and take action.

Inactive Account

In general, an inactive account hasn’t had any deposits, withdrawals, or transfers for one year. If your account is inactive, you’ll need to reactivate it before your bank can close it. You might be able to complete this process online, depending on your bank.

Deceased Person’s Account

The ability to close a bank account after someone passes away depends on their personal finance structure, including whether they had a will and named you a beneficiary. It may be advisable to consult a lawyer before proceeding.

Overdrawn Account

Typically, banks won’t close accounts that are in overdraft status. You will likely need to pay all the associated fees and bring your account current before you can close it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you close a bank account online?

Some banks and credit unions allow you to send an email or chat to customer service online. However, others will require you to call or visit a local branch.

Is it possible for a bank to close your account without your permission?

While this is possible, it only happens if you have an account with a negative balance or unpaid balance or the bank believes you’ve committed fraud.  A ChexSystems report can inform you of any issues with your account.

How long does it take for the bank to close the account?

In most cases, the bank will shut down your account as soon as you make the request, assuming you have a zero balance. But if you have a balance, pending transactions, or unpaid fees, this process might take a little longer. If you use your account for paycheck direct deposits, you may want to wait until the updated direct deposit has been processed.

Can I reopen a closed bank account?

It may be possible to reopen a closed bank account, depending on the circumstances. Some banks may allow you to reopen an account if you request it within a certain timeframe, typically within a few months of the account being closed. However, other banks may not allow you to reopen a closed account at all.

If you want to try to reopen a closed bank account, you should contact the bank and explain your situation. The bank will let you know if it is possible to reopen the account and, if so, what steps you need to take. Keep in mind that even if the bank agrees to reopen the account, you may be required to pay any fees that were incurred while the account was closed.

Will closing a bank account hurt my credit?

In general, closing a bank account should not have a direct impact on your credit score as long as you are in good standing with the bank. However, if you have any outstanding debts or negative balances in the account, they could potentially show up on your credit report. This would hurt your credit score.

For example, if you have a negative balance in the account you are closing and are unable to bring it to zero before closing the account, it may be reported as a past due debt to the credit bureaus.

Bottom Line

If you find that your current bank account no longer serves you in the way it once did, closing it and switching banks or credit unions is your best bet. As long as you follow the steps and tips above, you can shut down your account and transition to a new account with ease. Best of luck!

Anna Baluch
Meet the author

Anna Baluch is a freelance personal finance writer from Cleveland, OH. She enjoys helping people make smart financial decisions.