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Ask the expert: How do I transfer my checking account?

April 08, 2011

By Richard Barrington | MoneyRates.com Senior Financial Analyst, CFA

Question: I want to close my old checking account and start a new one at a different bank, but I'm a bit confused by the logistics involved. How do I get the timing right so that I don't have a gap in my ability to write checks, but also so I don't bounce recent checks written on the old account?

Answer: The only good way to do this is to have an overlap period between the two accounts. Step-by-step, here's how you can go about it:

  1. Shop and compare terms on checking accounts. If you are transferring for a better deal, make sure you get the best offer available.
  2. Open a new account. Deposit enough to cover your normal activity going forward, but be sure to leave enough in the old account to cover any checks outstanding and fees.
  3. Immediately direct all activity to your new checking account. That means changing any direct deposit and bill pay instructions, and start writing checks only on the new account.
  4. Monitor both accounts for one statement cycle. Check that direct deposits and other instructions are being correctly followed in the new account, and see if all the checks written against the old account have cleared.
  5. Clear up any loose ends. If there are still checks on the old account that haven't cleared, you may want to prompt the recipient of those checks to cash them before you close the account.
  6. Check your balance. Once you've established that all the old checks have cleared, confirm that your balance is what you think it should be. Reconcile any differences that may have resulted from interest or fees.
  7. Transfer your remaining balance and close the old account. Get written confirmation that this has been done, and check that the funds are received into the new checking account.

Transferring checking accounts can seem confusing, but going step-by-step will make it an orderly process.

Got a financial question about saving, investing, or banking? MoneyRates.com invites you to submit your questions to its "Ask the Expert" feature. Just go to the MoneyRates.com home page and look for the "Ask the Expert" box on the lower left.

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