Freelance Writers: A Checklist for Switching Banks

on September 25, 2012 in Finance
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If you bank with a major bank, you’ve probably received notice that a monthly fee is being added to your account. For the most part, these fees can be waived if you maintain a certain balance, make a certain number of debit card transactions, or have a certain amount direct deposited into your account. Basically, you may have to go through a little bit of hassle to get that $10 to $14 fee waived each month.

I got the notice for one of my accounts and immediately decided to close the amount and move to a credit union. Not only did that account not meet the requirements for having the fee waived, I was livid that, after being a customer for 8 or more years, a fee was being added to my account.

Switching banks is a nuisance, but I did it anyway to save a little money but more to teach my big bank a lesson! *shakes fist*

Scope out a new bank. I opted for a local credit union, a free account with no minimum balance or direct deposit requirements. Many people are moving to credit unions because of their service and lack of fees. However, note that credit unions may have fewer locations and ATMs. If you don't need to visit the bank that often, it may not be such a problem. However, if you frequently receive check or money order payments, driving across town to your new bank may not be worth it.

Withdraw the money from your old account. If you’ve already opened a new account, you may be able to do a bank transfer, but it could cost and take a few days. Visiting a bank branch is slightly inconvenient, but much faster. If you have a big balance, a cashier's check is a safer way to take your cash to your new bank.

Cancel direct deposits and bills set to be paid from that account. Use your recent bank statements to help figure out if you have any of these.


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Close the account after you’re sure there are no outstanding transactions, e.g. checks that haven’t cleared. Within a certain timeframe, typically 60 to 120 days, transactions can re-open your account. And since there’s no money there, a transaction would overdraft and cause a fee or several fees if it takes you awhile to discover what's happened.

Open up your new account and deposit the funds from your old account.

Redirect direct deposits or auto pay.

Let clients know your new bank information if they were sending payments via wire transfer. You’ll need to give them the new routing and checking account number.

Change your Paypal information if it was connected to your old account. This is important to make sure your bank transfers reach your new account and not the old one that you’re not paying attention to.

Don’t ignore mail from your old bank. Sure you’ve ditched them and want to leave them behind, but if a transaction re-opens your account, the bank will probably only notify you by mail. So pay attention to anything they send you, except their offers to get you back as a customer.

Have you recently switched banks? How much trouble did you go through?

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LaToya Irby is a full-time freelance writer and a graduate of the University of Alabama. She primarily writes about personal finance, freelancing, and other self-employment topics.

3 Comments

  1. Amandah September 25, 2012 Reply

    I too am banking with a credit union. This particular credit union has locations across the U.S. I canceled my debit card because I didn’t realize I would be charged a fee for NOT using it. Go figure. The only reason why I got the debit card was for emergencies. Also, it’s important to make sure you have the minimum balance (whatever it is) in your account; otherwise, you could be charged a fee if go below the minimum balance. Weigh the pros and cons and choose a financial institution that works for you.

  2. Rebecca Garland September 25, 2012 Reply

    I’m thinking about opening a hole in my mattress and just using that. I’ve been using ING for my freelance stuff and so far I’m pleased. I have moved banks for other accounts and it’s a huge hassle. But I might be doing it again soon – it just depends on how this all shakes out.

  3. Deila September 26, 2012 Reply

    I just did this very same thing. Closed my Wells Fargo after 30 years and started using the credit union. It was not that bad a move and well worth it.

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