Are you underwhelmed by your bank’s customer service, disappointed with its rates and fees, or unimpressed by its online banking tools? You’re not alone. 77% of bank customers say their financial institutions fall short of their expectations, according to a survey by technology company FIS.
But as frustrated as they are, most people don’t do anything about it, believing that switching banks can be a hassle. But it doesn’t have to be.
7 Steps To Switching Banks
1. Find your new bank or credit union.
Poll your friends and family, peruse online review sites, and see what people are saying about their banks. Keep in mind the things you care about most. Do they have free checking? Good interest rates? Exceptional customer service or plenty of branch locations? Use online comparison sites like Deposit Accounts, and Bankrate to help you better understand your options.
2. Line up those ducks.
Whether you decide to open an account in person or online, you’ll need some documentation. Gather necessary items like your driver’s license or state-issued identification, your Social Security number, the checkbook and debit or credit card from your current bank, and your current and previous home addresses.
3. Do the paperwork.
Many banks and credit unions now offer easy online applications to open a checking or savings account. Or you can go into a branch where bank staff can answer any questions you might have. Typically, you’ll be able to open a new account right away.
4. Move your money.
Your new financial institution will let you know how to switch accounts, and how it can accept your money — via check, credit card, debit card or a direct online transfer. Migrate your money from your old account to your new one, but be sure to temporarily leave some cash in your old account if you use automatic bill pay. You want to be sure your bills will be covered for a couple of months if there’s a lag in setting up automatic bill pay with your new account.
5. Update direct deposit information.
Many people have their employers directly deposit their paychecks into their bank accounts. Download the direct deposit form from your new bank, fill it out, attach a voided deposit slip or check from your new account, and give all those forms to your employer’s payroll department. Be sure to ask how long it will take for the changes to take effect and when you can expect your paychecks to start showing up in your new account.
6. Set up your online tools.
Automated payments are a great way to make sure you never miss a bill, and most banks and credit unions offer this service. Some allow you to go entirely paperless, receiving e-bills through your bank’s online tools and getting your monthly statement in a digital format. The steps for this vary, so follow the guidelines on your bank’s website, and if you’re not sure about something, call customer service for help. You’ll need basic information such as the company’s name, mailing address, phone number, and your account number with that company in order to set up the payments. Remember to cancel online and automatic payments through your old account, because soon you’ll be closing it for good!
7. Close your old account.
Once you’re confident that all automatic payments and deposits have successfully transferred from your old account to your new one and all the checks you’ve written on the old account have cleared, you can go ahead and close that account.
If you have a few bucks left over in it, why not treat yourself for being smart and investing in a better banking experience? Use the leftover money for something you enjoy — dinner out, a movie or that special item you’ve had your eye on for a while. Hey, you deserve it.