How to Close a Bank Account: Savings & Checking Accounts

By Julia Califano · May 20, 2024 · 11 minute read

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How to Close a Bank Account: Savings & Checking Accounts

If you’re no longer being well-served by your current savings or checking account, it may be time to make a switch. Maybe you’re moving and need a bank with closer branches or ATMs. Or, perhaps you’re annoyed by your current bank’s fees or poor customer service. A common reason for closing a bank account is finding a new account that pays a higher annual percentage yield (APY).

Whatever the reason, closing a bank account isn’t complicated. However, you’ll want to make sure you follow certain steps, in a certain order, to prevent hassles and fees. Here’s what you need to know about closing a bank account.

Key Points

•   Closing a bank account involves a series of steps to ensure a smooth transition without incurring fees.

•   Before closing an account, it’s crucial to set up a new one to avoid disruptions in financial transactions.

•   Updating automated transactions and direct deposits to the new account is necessary to prevent missed payments.

•   After transferring funds to the new account, monitoring the old account for a short period can catch any overlooked transactions.

•   Obtaining written confirmation of the account closure from the bank is advisable to avoid potential issues with accidental reactivation.

6 Steps to Closing a Bank Account

While closing a savings account (or checking account) is generally a simple process, it requires more than just contacting your bank. There are a series of steps you’ll want to follow to ensure a smooth transition. Here’s how to close a bank account.

Step 1: Decide Where You Want to Keep Your Money

Before you end one banking relationship, it’s a good idea to have another place lined up to stash your money. You may be able to increase your returns and reduce the cost of banking if you take time to research your options. For example, the top high-yield savings accounts currently have APYs of up to 5% or more — that’s many times higher than the average national average rate of 0.46%.

If you have multiple financial goals and needs, you may want to have more than one bank account. For example, you might open different savings accounts for different objectives, such as one earmarked for an upcoming vacation or large purchase and another for your emergency fund. Just keep an eye out for any fees.

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Step 2: Update Any Automated Transactions

If you have any direct deposits or automatic payments set up, you’ll need to move them to the new account. Check with your employer regarding any forms you need to fill out for direct deposit so your paycheck can be rerouted to the new account.

It’s also a good idea to comb through your statements and create a list of monthly recurring payments, such as automatic payment for loans, insurance policies, credit cards, streaming services, and the like. If you have any annual subscriptions, go through the last 12 months of transactions. A failed automated payment or negative account balance could trigger penalties.

Step 3: Move Your Money

Once your automatic payments are updated and any pending transactions have cleared, you can move your money out of your old account. However, the timing on this is critical: If an automatic payment or outstanding check goes through after you empty the account, you could end up overdrafting the account, which can trigger a hefty fee.

Also, if your bank account has a minimum balance requirement, you may want to wait to transfer money out of the account until just before you officially close the account, so you don’t get hit with a monthly maintenance fee due to a low balance.

Recommended: How Much Money Do You Need to Open a Bank Account?

Step 4: Monitor Your Old Account

After you’ve funded your new bank account, you can begin using it. However, you may want to keep your old account open for a couple of months as you transition to the new account, as long as it’s not costly to do so. This allows you to catch any automatic transactions you forgot to change over.

Step 5: Download Your Transaction Records

Once your account is closed, you likely won’t have access to your transaction history and online statements. If you require any records of your banking activities under the old account (say, for tax purposes), you may want to download your documentation before you officially deactivate your account.

Step 6: Close Your Old Account

Once you’re set up and using your new savings account, you can close the old one.

The exact process for doing this will depend on your bank — some allow you to close an account online or via a phone agent, while others require you to fill out an account closure request form or submit a written request. Be sure to follow your bank’s guidance on the proper method for closing an account.

If you still have money left in your account, you should be able to request a transfer to your new account or receive a check by mail.

Because closed bank accounts can sometimes be reactivated in error and incur fees, it’s smart to get written confirmation of the account closure for your records. You’ll also want to carefully review your final bank account statement for any errors.

Recommended: How to Switch Banks in 3 Easy Steps

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Common Reasons for Closing a Savings Account

Here’s a look at some reasons why you might want to close your current bank account and open a different one at the same or a different bank.

•  You’re moving and your current bank doesn’t have branches and ATMs near your new location.

•  Your bank’s hours don’t suit your lifestyle.

•  The bank has policies that don’t work for you, such as minimum balance and service fees.

•  You have multiple bank accounts and want to consolidate.

•  Another bank offers higher interest rates on savings accounts.

•  You want to change from a brick-and-mortar bank to an online bank.

•  You aren’t happy with your bank’s customer service.

•  You’re opening a joint account.

•  You’re switching from a child account to an adult account.

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Why It’s Important to Close a Savings Account Properly

Once you’ve decided you no longer want or need a certain bank account, it’s a good idea to go through all of the steps involved in properly closing that account, rather than just let it sit around unused. Here’s a look at some reasons why this is important.

Dormancy Fees and Other Penalties

Some banks charge account holders a “dormancy fee” after a period of time without any deposits or withdrawals. These fees can add up over time. Also, if your old bank account charges a monthly maintenance fee when your balance goes below a certain level, you could end up triggering that fee. If you have funds left in your unused savings account, these penalties could deplete them.

Fraud

If you’re not closely monitoring your old bank account, it can be more difficult to spot suspicious activity. Even inactive accounts contain personal information that could be exploited by identity thieves. Closing a rarely or never-used account reduces the likelihood of your sensitive data falling into the wrong hands.

Lost Deposits

If you’ve signed up for direct deposit you don’t receive regularly — your yearly tax refund, for instance — you may forget you’ve done so. And if they one day make a deposit to a savings account you’re no longer using, you may not notice you received that payment.

While there are drawbacks to keeping an unused account open, you may also be wondering: Is it bad to close a savings account? The good news is, closing your account usually comes at no cost. Not only do most banks not charge a fee to close a basic savings account, but doing so will not affect your credit score.

If, however, your account has a negative balance, you will need to repay that at the time of closing the account.

Recommended: What Happens to a Direct Deposit If It Goes to a Closed Account?

Closing a Joint Account

If you’re looking to close a joint checking or savings account, you’ll want to check with your bank about the correct procedure. Some banks allow only one account holder’s authorization to close a joint account, while others require both parties to sign an account closure request or to request an account closure online.

Closing a Child’s Account

A childs’ bank account is designed for kids under age 18. Typically, both the child and a parent or guardian act as joint account holders.

In some cases, a bank will automatically convert a child’s account into a regular account when the child turns 18. In that case, the child/now adult can likely close the account on their own. If a parent or guardian is still the co-owner of the account, however, both parties will usually need to request the closure of the account.

Closing an Inactive Account

An account can become “inactive” or “dormant” if its owner does not initiate any activity for a specific period of time, often two years. If your account has been marked inactive or dormant, you’ll need to reactivate it before it can be closed by the bank. Contact your bank’s customer service to reactivate your bank account. There might also be an option to do this through your online or mobile banking.

Closing the Account of Someone Deceased

Closing the bank account of a loved one who has passed away is generally more complicated than closing your own bank account. The first step is let the bank know of the account owner’s death. To do this, you may need to supply an original or certified copy of the death certificate and, possibly, other documents. The bank can then freeze the account, and stop any standing orders or direct debits.

When you’ve notified the bank about the death, they can let you know what the next steps will be and what other documentation they need to officially close the account.

Recommended: What Happens to a Bank Account When Someone Dies?

How Long Does It Take to Close a Bank Account?

If your bank account has a zero or positive balance and there are no pending transactions, closing a bank account is a quick process. Typically, the bank can close the account as soon as you make the request. If there are still pending transactions or unpaid fees, however, the process can take longer. You will likely need to wait for deposits or payments to fully clear and/or bring the balance into positive territory before you can close the account.

Can You Reopen a Closed Bank Account?

Generally, once a bank account is closed, it can’t be reopened. However, it may be possible to reopen a closed account if it was closed due to inactivity. Also, some banks reserve the right to reopen an account if another payment or deposit comes through.

When closing your account, it’s a good idea to ask the bank about their policy on transactions after an account is closed. If you find out that an old account was reopened due to a new transaction, you’ll want to withdraw or add funds and then close the account again. Be sure to update the person who billed or paid you with your new bank account information.

Does Closing a Bank Account Hurt Your Credit Score?

No, closing a bank account will not have any impact on your credit. Bank accounts are different from credit card accounts and aren’t part of your consumer credit reports. Banks report account closures to the consumer reporting agency ChexSystems. Opting to close a bank account, however, won’t have a negative impact on your ChexSystems report.

Finding an Account That Meets Your Needs

Even if you’ve been with the same bank forever, it’s worth taking a pulse check from time to time to ensure that your current savings and checking accounts meet your financial needs and are helping you get closer to achieving your goals.

If you find an account that offers a higher APY on your deposits and/or charges lower or no fees, it can be well worth making the switch. Closing a bank account is a simple process and there are typically no fees involved.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.


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FAQ

Does it cost money to close a savings account?

Typically, no. The one exception is if you close your account soon after opening it. Some banks charge something called an “early account closure” fee (ranging from $5 to $50) if a customer closes their account within 90 to 180 days of opening it. However, many banks and credit unions don’t charge early account closure fees. Check the institution’s policy before opening an account.

Can you close a savings account at any time?

Yes, you can request to close a savings (or checking) account anytime. Just keep in mind that some banks charge what’s known as an early closure fee if an account holder closes their account within 90 to 180 days of opening it.

What happens when you close a savings account with money in it?

If you close a bank account but still have money in the account, you should receive a check from the bank for the remaining funds.


SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


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