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credit & debt

How to Break Up With Your Bank

Five steps to help you leave your current bank and start over somewhere else

You’re ready to move on. But you may have signed up for direct deposits and scheduled automatic withdrawals. That makes switching banks more complicated. Take these steps to help make the transition smooth and painless.

To start, open your new account. You’ll need the account number and the bank routing number to transfer automated transactions.

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Make a list of your direct deposits and automatic withdrawals. These could include paychecks, Social Security and pension checks, and monthly payments from a mutual fund. Don’t forget to include accounts, such as Treasury Direct, that deposit funds periodically. Contact each provider to find out what you need to do to transfer the payment and how long it will take for the change to take effect. Then go through the same process for all your automatic withdrawals, making sure no debits occur before your direct deposits take effect.

Print out records. If you bank online, download and print any important transactions—checks to the IRS, for example, or your final mortgage or student-loan payment. Download and save your e-statements.

Consider outstanding loans. If you’re getting a discount on your car loan or mortgage because you have multiple accounts at your current bank, see if your new bank will match it.

Close your old account. Once you’re certain all checks have cleared—you may want to wait a couple of weeks to be sure—you’re ready to pull the plug. You may cancel your account at a bank branch, by mail or over the phone, and you can ask the bank for cash or to cut you a check. Be sure to get a letter confirming that the account has been closed.

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