Bank accounts aren’t necessarily forever. You might decide to close one account in search of better features elsewhere and then realize you had a heckuva good deal in the first place. Or perhaps your bank closed your account because you accumulated some unpaid overdraft fees (it happens!) and you’re eager to get access back.
In either case, you may wonder: “Can you reopen a closed bank account? If so, what are the steps?”
Read on; this guide will help you navigate having a closed bank account that you’d like to reopen, including:
• Why would a bank close a bank account?
• What happens to your money when a bank account is closed?
• Can you reopen a closed bank account?
• What are the steps to reopen a closed bank account?
Why Might You Need to Close a Bank Account?
Account holders may decide to close a bank account for a variety of reasons, including the following:
• No longer needing the account
• Moving to a new location
• Lack of convenience
• Dissatisfaction with the account
• Issues meeting minimum requirements
Here’s more about each.
No Longer Needing the Account
Sometimes, you simply might not need a bank account anymore. For example, if you’d set up a separate savings account to save enough money for a down payment on a house or for a vacation, after you’ve accomplished those goals, you might decide that you don’t need multiple bank accounts anymore.
Moving to a New Location
If you’re moving to a new community that doesn’t have a branch of your financial institution nearby, you may decide to close your bank account and open a new one that’s more readily accessible in your new town. Moving doesn’t create a problem when someone banks solely online, but it can lead someone to switch banks if they prefer in-person options.
Lack of Convenience
Another potential reason someone might switch banks is due to a lack of convenience, such as a bank’s hours being incompatible with their schedule or the bank not having a widespread enough network of ATMs so they wind up paying many ATM fees. When banking becomes inconvenient through a certain financial institution, that could spur someone to seek a more practical solution.
Dissatisfaction With the Account
Whether it’s poor customer service, a lack of desired services, or fees that are too high, customers sometimes close their accounts and go elsewhere because they aren’t satisfied with their current financial institution.
Issues Meeting Minimum Requirements
If a bank requires you to maintain a certain balance to keep the account open or to avoid hefty fees, an account holder may opt to close the account if they’re struggling to meet those requirements. By closing a savings account with a minimum balance that’s just out of reach, for instance, someone could avoid incurring fees each month when they don’t make the minimum balance requirement.
Is It Bad When a Bank Closes Your Account?
Whether it’s bad when a bank closes your account depends on why the bank closed it — and situations can vary. According to the governmental agency, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency , banks typically can close accounts for nearly any reason without providing notice.
That being said, common reasons why a bank may close an account can include:
• Low or no activity: Banks may place an account in a dormant status after a certain period elapses with no transactions. With a dormant account, it’s not technically closed, but the account owner is no longer able to make transactions. How long it might take for an account to go dormant depends on both state laws and a particular bank’s policies.
After an account has been dormant for a period of time, a bank may close the account and, if you can’t be reached, forward the funds to the proper state government, labeling them as “unclaimed property.” At this point, you’d need to submit a claim to your state’s treasury office to obtain that money.
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• Suspicious activity: A bank will close an account if it has proven the account to be involved in fraudulent activity. When the bank initially suspects fraudulent behavior (whether the account holder was the perpetrator or the victim), the bank will likely freeze the account to investigate. Red flags can include large transactions, frequent account activity (especially if that activity is new or different), and transfers to overseas accounts.
• Excessive overdrafts: If an account holder regularly spends more from an account than what’s available, this leads to negative balances and bounced checks. A bank can charge overdraft fees and require that the account holder bring in sufficient funds to return the account back to the minimum balance required. If that happens frequently or if funds are not restored, however, the bank may close the account.
Worth noting: If your bank account is closed due to a negative balance or suspicion of fraudulent activity, this may make it difficult for you to open a new bank account. Those issues will be on your record with ChexSystems, an industry reporting agency. You might need to explore what are known as second chance checking accounts in order to open a bank account again.
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Do You Get Your Money If a Bank Closes Your Account?
By law, a bank must refund to you any money in a closed account after subtracting fees that are due. Typically, a check will be sent to the account holder. There is a possibility that the bank might move the money into a different type of account.
If the bank cannot reach you about this matter, your funds could be sent to the state as unclaimed money.
How Long Do Banks Keep Closed Accounts?
For deposit accounts of $100 or more, a bank must retain records for at least five years. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you can reopen the account within that time frame.
You’ll learn more about how you might reopen a closed account below.
Can You Reopen a Closed Bank Account?
There isn’t a simple yes/no answer to “Can a closed bank account be reopened?” You may be able to reopen a closed bank account in some situations. It will depend, however, on why the account was closed and your financial institution’s policies.
Usually, it’s a wise move to contact the bank, find out why your account has been closed, and see if it’s possible to use it again. You might be able to reactivate a dormant account simply by making a withdrawal or depositing funds (see below for more details). But if a bank account has been closed due to, say, suspicions of fraud, you may not be able to reinstate it.
Next, you’ll learn the steps involved if you do try to reopen a closed bank account.
How Do You Reopen a Closed Bank Account?
If you’ve closed your account (rather than a bank doing so), you can typically submit a request to reopen your account. This can be done online, over the phone, or by visiting a branch in person, with the exact process varying depending on the specific financial institution.
Another option you have in this situation is to simply open a bank account that’s new, whether at your previous financial institution or at another one of your choice. When choosing your account, it’s worth exploring the different types of savings accounts you might consider.
On the other hand, if your bank account gets closed by a bank, whether or not you can reopen it largely depends on the reason for the closure as well as your bank’s policies.
In general, the first step in reinstating a troubled account is to talk to your financial institution about why your account was frozen, put into dormant status, or closed. Ask what you need to do to address the issues. You can also review your account agreement. If you believe that a bank wrongfully closed your account, you can file a written complaint .
Here’s guidance on how to reopen a closed bank account in three scenarios.
Reopening a Dormant/Inactive Account
This is one of the simplest issues to address. If you receive a notification that your account is considered inactive or dormant, contact your bank to find out how to make it active again. The bank may allow you to make a deposit to the old account, or they may have you open a new bank account.
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Reopening an Account After Closure Due to Excessive Overdraft
Financial institutions need to monitor their levels of risk. If they close a bank account for excessive overdrafts, the account holder would likely need to talk to the bank to see if they are willing to reopen the old account or if they’d allow them to open a new one. Different banks will have different policies. You may be required to pay off your negative balance, sometimes within a specified timeframe, before you can reopen your account.
Reopening an Account Closed for Suspicious or Fraudulent Activities
If a bank believes that a customer is engaged in fraudulent behavior (rather than being a victim of it), then it may be difficult to reopen an account or to open a new one with the institution. Contact the financial institution, and be prepared to demonstrate how any activity in your account that appeared suspicious was, in fact, not fraudulent or not your fault.
How to Prevent Bank Account Closures
In order to avoid your bank account being closed, it’s a good idea to:
• Use it regularly so it doesn’t go dormant.
• Set up alerts for a low balance. That way, you can remedy a situation which could lead to closure due to your overdrafting.
• Review communication from your bank. You might get a notice that your account has issues, but if you don’t read it, you can’t take steps to prevent closure.
Whether or not you can reopen a closed bank account largely depends on why it was closed in the first place. Sometimes, an account holder in good standing decides to close a bank account and later changes their mind. In that case, the financial institution will almost certainly allow them to have an account there again. Other times, the bank closed the account, perhaps because of excessive overdrafts, suspicious activity, or lack of use. In those instances, talk to the financial institution to see what steps you need to take.
If you’ve closed your account and are interested in starting fresh, you might look into an online checking and savings account with SoFi. You’ll earn a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay no account fees, and be able to spend and save in one convenient place. Plus, qualifying accounts enjoy no-fee overdraft coverage up to $50.
Can a bank close your account?
Yes, it can. According to a governmental agency that oversees financial transactions, banks can close accounts for virtually any reason without notice.
Is it bad when a bank closes your account?
Whether it’s bad depends upon the reason why the bank closes your account. Sometimes, a bank account is closed because of inactivity. Other times, it can be a more concerning situation, one that can make it harder to open an account in the future. For instance, the bank may have flagged the account for suspicious or fraudulent activity. Another reason why a bank may close an account is excessive overdrafts.
Can you reopen a closed account?
Whether you can reopen a closed account depends on who closed the account (you or the bank), the reasons why the account was closed, and the bank’s policies. Talk to your financial institution to find out what steps you would need to take in order to reopen your account.
How do I prevent my bank account from being closed?
To prevent your bank account from getting closed, use the account regularly and set up low balance alerts so you can avoid overdrafting. If your account is troubled, talk to your financial institution. Explore what solutions might exist to keep your account open and return it to good standing. It might also be beneficial to brush up on your financial habits and the basics, such as how savings accounts work.
Will a direct deposit reopen a closed account?
No. If an account is closed, the direct deposit funds will have nowhere to be deposited and so the transaction will not go through. To address this situation, talk to your bank about reopening the account and let the payer know that there is an issue with the account tied to your direct deposit.
Photo credit: iStock/Delmaine Donson
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