Being caught in the commotion of the anti-big bank movement is no excuse for closing your account improperly.

The titans of the consumer banking industry are rearing their ugly heads with the introduction of debit card fees, which have convinced many consumers to put their foot down against such a distasteful practice.

By closing your account with a big bank, you are voting with your money and your business.

“We Need to Talk”

Now is a great time for big bank customers to end the relationship. Why?

Typically, bankers make an effort to keep customers from closing their accounts.

Because recent attempts by other customers resulted in unwelcome media buzz for these banks, bankers may not fight back – to avoid mishandling disgruntled customers, which may end up in a public relations disaster.

Whether your decision to close your bank accounts is an act of protect as part of Occupy Wall Street or a voluntary participant in Bank Transfer Day, there are a few noteworthy things to ensure a smooth account closing process.

Cutting Ties, Gracefully

Some banks let you close accounts over the phone. Some let you mail in an account closure form. However, with branches of big bank likely to be nearby, walking in would prove most effective.

Closing a bank account isn’t as simple as saying, “Please close my account.” Keep the following tips in mind when breaking up with your future ex-bank:

1. Required documents and info
Before heading to the branch, you’ll need account numbers, Social Security number, driver’s license/state ID, and an account closing form (also available at the branch).

2. Possible closing fees and charges
Some banks and certain accounts may charge a fee for closing an account. For checking accounts, a fee may be charged if the account was recently opened. Pulling money from CDs may trigger early withdrawal penalties.

Call customer service beforehand to avoid being surprised while in a branch.

3. Cease transactions
Remember to stop all scheduled and automated payments and transfers while allowing all pending transactions to complete. There have been instances when ex-customers had their closed accounts reactivated when transactions continue to hit an old account.

4. Collect the remaining balance
Typically, the account closure process involves asking you how you want the remaining balance to be returned to you. Instead, transfer the entire balance into another bank account before heading out to close this bank account.

5. Proof of account closure
Getting a written letter stating that you have closed your account so you have proof that it is closed, in case any future discrepancies arise.

Afterward, it’s probably best to stroll out without starting trouble – you’ve already said something with your decision to break up with the bank.


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Simon Zhen

Simon is a research analyst for MyBankTracker. He is an expert on consumer banking products, bank innovations and financial technology.
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