How To Close A Checking Account You’ve Been Using For Years

Yesterday I told you how Wells Fargo has decided to do away with free checking; at least the account I’ve had for about twenty years will no longer be free unless I meet certain criteria: 1) Set up a direct deposit of $100 or more 2) Maintain a daily balance of $1500.  Since neither of those will work for me, and I’ve got way too many accounts to track, I’ve decided to close the account. I’ve actually considered doing this before, but never got around to it, however, the fact that I’m going to be charged a service fee of $7/month is strong incentive to make the leap!

This is my primary checking account so I can’t just close it down one day. I need to make some preparations.  I have another checking account with Wells Fargo, it is the one we used years ago when Mr. A first started his business, and it is the newer style account where as long as you have a savings connected to it with an automatic monthly transfer there are no monthly fees.  My plan is to switch and begin using this other account.  I have until September 12 to get this all together. That gives me just about six weeks.  That should be plenty of time. As I left the bank that day, I started preparing in my mind what needed to be done. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Order checks for the “new” checking account
  • Order new debit cards
  • Give the “new” account number to my mother, who deposits cash into my account once a month to pay for her cell phone which is on my account
  • Check to see if any automatic payments are coming from the current primary checking account and switch to the “new” account
  • Shred any checks for the current account
  • Begin using “new” checking account on August 15th
  • Deposit payroll check into “new” checking account
  • Begin using debit cards for “new” checking
  • Memorize “new” checking account number
  • Wait until the check statement arrives, reconcile the account for August
  • Move any money remaining in the account to the “new” account

Ordering Checks

Wells Fargo provides 150 duplicates checks for $9.95 for the “new” checking account. I am not sure this is the best deal I can get, and I will be checking both through Costco Checks and I will taking a look at the Sunday newspaper inserts to see what the best deal is for ordering checks nowadays.  Are you wondering why I’m ordering checks?  It’s true, I don’t use them very often, but I do keep them on hand for a few situations.  One for example, when I order through my food coop, it is easier to write a check than stop at the bank and take out cash.

Order New Debit Cards

This should be fairly easy… I’ll just put a call in to Wells Fargo and ask for debit cards to be issued for the account. Mr. A and I use this account, and AJ has a debit card on this account as well. AJ normally does not use the account, but I give him a debit card in case of emergency.  Everyone will have a new PIN for their card, but we can use the cards as “credit” until those arrive.

Stop Automatic Payments – Switch to a Different Account

I am almost certain that I do not have any automatic payments coming from this account, ever since the experience I had with T-Mobile where they took money from my account that they weren’t supposed to and almost overdrew my account, then held onto my money until the next month! If you want to read about it go here: Dang It T-Mobile, I’m Not Happy!   At the urging of my reader comments I made that switch and have never looked back.

Stop Date for Old Account, Start Date for New Account: August 15th

I think two weeks should be enough time to get the new debit cards, and if not, we will switch to using cash for a few days.  On August 15th, I’ll begin using the new account by depositing my payroll check.  I figure this will give any straggling outstanding amounts time to drop into the account by the end of the month.  At the end of the month I will reconcile the account, move the remaining money to the “new” account, and then I will close the account before September 12th thereby hoping to avoid paying that new $7 checking charge.

I’ll keep you posted on how things go and if my plan worked as expected.  Can you think of anything I’ve missed?


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8 thoughts on “How To Close A Checking Account You’ve Been Using For Years

  1. I would probably go at least 90 days before officially closing it just to make sure that there are no payments that you might have forgotten about. We have our garbage bill paid and it’s quarterly so if I wasn’t on top of things, I could end up with a late payment and returned payment fine.


    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @Money Beagle, hmmm… I will definitely take this into consideration… but I’m 99.9% sure that there are no automatic payments taken from this account… Thanks for sharing your experience!


  2. I’m a bit wary of there still being conditions on the free checking account. The automatic monthly transfer isn’t as bad as requiring a minimum deposit, but I still worry that if I miss something like that, I’ll end up paying fees, so I prefer fully free accounts. I used to use Washington Mutual, but they stopped offering it after being acquired by Chase, and recently even discontinued the grandfathered-in WaMu Free Checking accounts. There are still a few banks that offer no-strings-attacked free checking, though, and quite a few other small local banks and credit unions that do.

    On the other hand, if you already do your banking at Wells Fargo I can see that it’d be easiest to just stay with the existing one.


  3. Interesting because I had the same thing happen with Bank of America! And changing your bank is a major pain! I have found that small local banks are more eager for your business than the biggies. If you can get into a credit union, they usually have very good terms, too. Some are more relaxed about who they let join than you may think!


  4. There’s so much to consider when changing accounts. Even if you’re staying with the same bank, which is what you’re doing right? You’ve got it all covered though. Did you consider a different bank? You could pick up a nice bank bonus for your moving efforts.


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