Your strategic guide to switching banks, as painlessly as possible.
Not all banking relationships are meant to last forever.
Perhaps you've recently moved to a new city or state. Or no longer run your lunchtime errands in the same parts of town. Or your needs have changed—and the products and services offered by your bank are no longer a great fit.
Whatever your situation, if you find yourself in the market for a new bank but aren’t sure how to proceed, relax—we’ve got you covered.
Consider this your strategic guide to switching banks, as painlessly as possible.
What’s the best bank for me?
First, take some time to identify which features and services are most important to you in a new bank.
Some of these needs will be obvious. Others…not so much.
Asking yourself the following questions can help:
- Does the bank have a branch and ATM’s nearby? Don’t underestimate the value of convenience and access.
- What kind of technology do I expect the bank to provide with my account? Most major banks now offer online banking—but not all provide the same user experience. If you’re accustomed to using your bank’s mobile app to deposit checks or pay friends using a service like Zelle be sure your new bank includes those services before you open an account.
- What fees does the bank charge for transactions I use often? Reading the fine print now can lead to significant savings later on.
- Do I feel confident I can maintain the balances or adhere to the transaction restrictions the bank's accounts require to avoid fees? If not, it’s probably best to keep shopping around for an account that you’re
- Does the bank offer additional protections such as overdraft protection that is automatically linked to a credit card or fraud prevention tools? Your banking experience should be as closely tailored to your unique set of needs and resources as possible.
Put time on your side
Once you’ve got your future bank narrowed down to a few candidates, visit the local branches. Even if you'll bank mostly online or on your phone, meeting with a personal banker gives you an opportunity to have an in-depth conversation about the products the bank offers as well as how those services and features may help you better manage your money.
And if you do choose to open an account, this same banker can likely ease the transition and ensure you select the right type of account for your specific financial goals and habits.
Whether you open an account with a personal banker in the branch or online, set aside at least three weeks to get comfortable using the new account before you officially switch banks. An overlap also gives you time to get all your banking ducks in a row: For example, new checks and debit cards may take up to two weeks to arrive. And even if your employer allows you to update your own direct deposit information online, it will take time for payroll to officially redirect your paycheck to a new account.
Transition Your Bill Payment Activity
Ready to transition?
Great. Begin by reviewing all the transactions you’ve made at your existing account for at least the past six months. After all, you don’t want to forget about that semi-annual car insurance payment or lose the information for the lawn care company you only pay occasionally. Create a list of all your bill payment activity—including the date transfer activity occurs, the payee's information, and the transaction amount.
Set aside some distraction-free time to enter all payee information in your new bank account. Then choose one date that you'll transition all recurring and scheduled payments—say, the first of the month. In some cases, you may need to contact the merchant directly to update your information.
If possible, you may find it less stressful to switch banks by funding both accounts with enough money to cover the bills to ensure you never miss a payment or withdraw too much money from one account. This way you can switch the bill payments to your new account as each one comes due.
Use electronic transfers to your advantage
Many major banks make it easy to transfer funds from one account to the other—and some even complete those transactions in a matter of minutes. Zelle is one such quick pay service you can use to pay or accept funds from someone else to your new free checking account with an email address or phone number.
Complete the transition
Once a few weeks have passed and you’re confident that you’ve transitioned all your information from your old account and into your new one, contact your old bank to formally close the account. Be aware that even if you've moved all your funds to the new account, some banks may assess fees on accounts that aren’t in use or don’t maintain a minimum balance.
Ready to switch banks and learn what Fifth Third Bank has to offer? Schedule an appointment with a Personal Banker.
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The views expressed by the author are not necessarily those of Fifth Third Bank and are solely the opinions of the author. This article is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute the rendering of legal, accounting, or other professional services by Fifth Third Bank or any of their subsidiaries or affiliates, and are provided without any warranty whatsoever.Deposit and credit products provided by Fifth Third Bank. Member FDIC. Loans are subject to credit review and approval.