How to Close a Bank Account: Step-by-Step
- Learn how to close a bank account. Find out what you need to do to close individual accounts, joint accounts and accounts that belonged to deceased loved ones.
Leaving bank accounts at a zero balance could end up costing you money in the form of account maintenance fees or put you at risk for identity theft, as fraudsters commonly steal bank account numbers. Fortunately, getting rid of unwanted accounts is generally a simple procedure once you understand the basic process for how to close a bank account.
Learn More About Medicare
Join our email series to receive your free Medicare guide and the latest information about Medicare.
By clicking "Sign me up!" you are agreeing to receive emails from HelpAdvisor.com
Thanks for signing up!
Your free Medicare guide is on the way.
Make sure to check your spam folder if you don't see it.
Basic Steps for Closing an Individual Bank Account
To close a bank account that's only in your name, whether its from Chase Bank, Fifth Third, or any other bank, follow these steps:
1. Contact Your Current Financial Institution
Banks develop their own policies and procedures for account closures. Some banks will allow you to close accounts online or by mail, while others may require you to visit a bank branch in person.
2. Establish a New Bank Account
If you intend to switch banks, choose a new financial institution. Because banks offer a wide range of accounts, research several in your area and consider the following:
- Minimum balance requirements: Do you need to keep a certain amount of money in your account to avoid fees or for it to remain active?
- Overdraft fees and protection: How much will you be charged for overdrafts? Are checks and debit card transactions declined or paid if you don't have enough funds available to cover them? Is there overdraft protection or fee forgiveness available?
- Incentives and gifts: Can you qualify for any statement credits or free gifts for signing up for a new account?
- ATMs: How many ATMs does the bank have in your area? How much is the fee for using another bank's ATM?
- Branches: Is there a branch location near you? Are its hours convenient?
- Online services: Does the bank offer online banking and bill pay services? Is there a mobile app?
- Additional fees: What other fees does the bank charge? How much are they?
3. Determine What's Outstanding on the Account You Wish to Close
Make note of any unpaid checks or debits in your existing account. You'll need to leave enough money in the account to cover these outstanding items and wait for them to clear before you close the account.
4. Move Money to Your New Account
After deducting outstanding checks and debits, move the remaining balance to your new account. You may be able to do this online. Otherwise, you can write yourself a check and deposit it in your new account.
5. Move Recurring Payments
Compile a list of all auto-debits that come out of the account you're closing. Contact each company that makes a debit to notify them of your new account. You'll likely need:
- Account number with the company making the debit
- Bank routing number
- Bank account number
The associate you speak to may also ask for information to verify your identity, such as your date of birth, the last four digits of your social security number or your address.
6. Move Your Direct Deposit
If you work and receive direct deposit, notify your employer about your account change.
To change your bank account for Social Security direct deposits, log into your account and click the "Benefits and Payment Details" link on the right side of the page. Then, find the "Update Direct Deposit" button. After you click the button, the site will prompt you to enter your new bank account information.
Check the timing of your social security direct deposit. If you're making the account change request close to the deposit date, the money may not go to your new account until the following month.
7. Follow Your Bank's Account Closing Procedure
Visit the branch or complete the by-mail or online process for closing an account. Your signature is usually necessary. If you visit the bank in person, you'll likely need to show a photo ID.
8. Check Your Account Status
Within a few days of closing your account, call the bank or go online to see if the account actually closed. If not, follow up with your former bank.
Closing an Overdrawn Bank Account
If your bank account is overdrawn, you'll usually need to bring the account to a zero balance before the bank will close it. After a certain number of your days, your bank may close the account, charge off the funds you owed and send the debt to a collection agency, which could negatively impact your credit score. If fees have made repaying the amount owed difficult, talk to the manager at the branch where you opened your account. In some cases, banks may waive some fees if it means preventing a charge-off.
Closing a Joint Bank Account
To close a joint bank account, you first need to know how the account is titled:
- If the bank account is you "or" someone else: You may be able to close the account without the permission of the other person. Contact the bank for more details.
- If the bank account is you "and" someone else: You'll likely need to have their signature to close the account.
Apart from potentially requiring two signatures instead of one, the process for closing a joint account is largely the same as the steps required to close an individual one. You'll need to open a new account, switch your debits and direct deposits, wait for everything to clear and then request the closure.
Closing a Bank Account From Your Childhood
If you have a bank account that dates back to your childhood, contact your financial institution to find out how the account is titled. You may be able to close the account simply by proving you're no longer a minor. In some cases, it may be necessary for the person who opened the account to request the closure, or you may both need to sign to close the account.
Closing a Bank Account for a Deceased Loved One
Closing bank accounts is among the list of things you need to do when someone dies. How to close an account for a deceased loved one depends on whether there's a beneficiary for the account and if the account owner had a will.
Closing a Bank Account With a Beneficiary
Some bank accounts have a payment-upon-death or POD title. This means that when the account holder dies, any money in it goes to the person named. With this type of account, the beneficiary will need to request the account closure. They'll usually have to present a death certificate and sign a form.
Closing a Bank Account for Someone Who Had a Will
If there's a will, the executor of the person's estate will present a death certificate to request closure. The money from the account goes into the estate to be distributed to the beneficiaries according to the deceased's wishes.
Closing a Bank Account for Someone Without a Will
If there's no will, a court may need to decide who receives the person's assets. The court will appoint an executor for the estate who can request the account closure.