Breaking up with the bank that holds your checking account can happen for any number of reasons -- the fees are too high, the interest paid is too low, the ATMs aren't always there for you, or you've met another bank that you like better. Like any breakup, it requires an adjustment period. However, you can make sure the breakup doesn't get messy by keeping your finances in order while you're transitioning to your new bank.
Open your new account first. If you try to close your old account first, you could find yourself in a financial bind if you need to write a check before you get your new account up and running.
List all of the direct deposits, automatic payments and uncashed checks for the account you want to close. If those payments or deposits get sent to your old account after it closes, they will bounce back, which could cost you extra in fees if you miss a payment, or delay your access to the money someone is trying to pay you.
Update the bank account information for your direct deposits and automatic payments to reflect your new bank account information. For example, if your employer pays you via direct deposit, ask your human resources manager for an update form. Alternatively, if your credit card automatically withdraws your monthly payment from your checking account, call or go online to change the account information so the money gets taken out of your new account.
Transfer as much of your money from your old checking account to your new account as possible, leaving enough money in the old account to cover any checks or automatic payments that are already set to come out of that account. You can write yourself a check from your old account and deposit it in the new one or transfer it electronically through your bank's website. Alternatively, you can use a cashier's check. Though it's more expensive, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau notes that you may be able to access the transferred funds faster with a cashier's check.
Close your old account as soon as you're certain that all direct deposits and automatic payments are going to your new account and any previously outstanding checks have been cashed. Get written confirmation from the bank that the account has been closed. If you haven't already transferred all of the funds, you will receive a check for your remaining balance when you officially close the account.
- Having confirmation that your old account is closed in writing is important in the event your bank tries to reopen it because of a billing error or an unchanged automatic payment. If you have written confirmation the account was closed, the bank can't come after you for payment on the charges -- or the resulting bank fees.
Mark Kennan is a writer based in the Kansas City area, specializing in personal finance and business topics. He has been writing since 2009 and has been published by "Quicken," "TurboTax," and "The Motley Fool."