There are more than 10,000 financial institutions in the United States, so finding the right one for you can be overwhelming and time-consuming. We've listed a few questions to ask your potential new bank with answers to some common questions, as well as steps to take to make the change to a new bank.
Is it difficult to switch banks?
Making the switch isn't difficult, but it does take some time. If you pay all your bills through your debit card or have automatic withdrawal, you'll need to update the information with each company and change your account information for your paycheck's direct deposit.
How long does it take to switch banks?
Updating all the companies that you pay bills automatically through might take a couple of hours, but once that's done, it's pretty straightforward. As the days go by, you'll need to keep a close eye on both of your bank accounts to make sure your bills are coming out of the correct account. If they're not you have time to make corrections and get things straightened out. After a month or two you'll know if you can safely close your old accounts.
4 Steps to Switch Banks and Change Your Accounts
1. Find a new bank
As you venture out on your journey to find a new bank, or switch bank accounts, make sure to do your homework and comparison shop. Below are some questions to ask any bank you're thinking about doing business with.
- Does the bank offer the services you are looking for?
- If needed, do you have convenient access to a nearby branch or ATM?
- Does the bank offer service when you want it - through branch locations or a call center? And do they speak your preferred language?
- What are the requirements for opening a new account?
- Will you be charged any fees on your account(s)? If so, are there ways to avoid them or is there a free account option?
- Do you need to keep a minimum monthly balance?
- Are there overdraft fees on checking accounts? If there are, can you link your checking account to a savings account to avoid paying fees?
- Does the bank offer an ATM network that won't charge you fees?
2. Open a New Bank Account
Many banks will allow you to open a new account online. You also have the option to visit a branch in person instead. Although each institution has different policies, opening a new account generally requires:
- A valid, government-issued photo ID (driver's license, passport or state ID card)
- Personal information for everyone that will be on the new account, which may include address, phone number, date of birth and social security number or taxpayer identification number.
- An opening deposit (varies by financial institution, but generally is around $25)
- If you're under 18, you will most likely need a co-owner (maybe a parent or legal guardian) to be on the account with you, which means they will have full access to any money you have in the account.
3. Move all automatic payments, withdrawals and direct deposits to your new account
Once you've made a list based on your transaction history in your current account, you can update payment information with all companies that have your debit card or account information on file. Follow these simple steps to ensure your money is routed to and from the proper accounts:
- Visit the websites for each company or service where you've enrolled in automatic payments (with your account information or your debit card) and update your payment information. It's a good idea to leave some money in your old account for a few weeks, just in case you don't make the change before the end of the billing cycle.
- Fill out the appropriate forms with your employer to change your direct deposit information.
- Cancel any recurring bill pay service or transfers between your account and any other linked accounts. Once you establish your new account, you can set up bill pay and any recurring transfers.
4. Close Your Old Bank Account
After you've confirmed that all automatic withdrawals and direct deposits are going to or from your new accounts, you're ready to close out your old ones.
- Contact your soon to be former financial institution and ask to close your accounts. They'll assist you with the process. Once the account is closed, ask for a written statement showing that the account is closed. Don't forget to shred your leftover paper checks and debit card, if you have them.
- Lastly, if you have a bank app on your phone turn off any alerts you might have signed up for, then sign out of it and delete the app.
WaFd Bank's Account Options
Changing to a new bank that fits your needs and lifestyle is easier than you think. Plus, it may result in a little extra money if you find options with reduced (or no) fees like a WaFd Free Checking Account*. All the stuff you want, none of the stuff you don't, all for free.
3 Steps to Open a WaFd Bank Account Online
WaFd Bank offers checking, savings and business banking accounts, among other services. Make the switch to WaFd Bank in three easy steps:
- Open a WaFd Bank checking account online or at the branch nearest you.
- Switch your direct deposits and automatic withdrawals by sending out our Easy Switch Form.
- Close your old checking account using our Account Closure Request Form.
* Free Checking Account requires a $25 initial deposit to open. Nonsufficient funds charge may apply.