Is it time to bid your bank farewell? Perhaps, like millions of Americans, you’re irked by major banks’ new fees. Maybe you’re moving away or changing your marital status. In any case, you’ll find that closing accounts isn’t quite as simple as opening them.

Here are a few tips to help make sure nothing’s overlooked when it’s time to close a bank account.

1. Know Your Reputation

You’ll probably want to open a new checking account before closing your current account. Make sure your new account is in good standing. Otherwise, your bank will likely report you to ChexSystems. For five years, this consumer credit reporting agency will keep reports of your unsatisfied balances, overdrafts and other “banking irregularities.” Having a poor ChexSystems report can make it virtually impossible to open a new account.

You can obtain a free copy of your report once a year by visiting the ChexSystems website.

2. Give Yourself Time

Before closing your account, it’s best to stop using it for a few weeks. That way, you can make sure that all of your checks and debit transactions have cleared. During this time, you’ll also want to make other arrangements for covering any automated payments or transfers you’ve approved. If you’ve designated the account as a cash reserve for other accounts (PayPal, etc.), be sure to remove it from their profiles.

3. Closing Accounts: Individual and Joint Accounts

Closing a personal account is more straightforward than closing a joint account. Simply visit the bank or write an account close letter. If you visit the bank in person, you can receive your remaining cash or a check immediately. If you send an account close letter, the bank will mail a check and a letter of confirmation that your account is closed.

Some joint bank accounts list the account owners as “Person 1 AND Person 2” while others join names with an “OR.” If you have an “AND” account, you’ll need your partner to visit the bank or write a letter with you. If you have an “OR” account, then either of you can close the account alone.

4. What to Include in a Bank Letter

Whether you’re closing an individual account or a joint account, you’ll need to include the following in your letter: your name, your address (for receiving any remaining funds) and your account number. You might also include a phone number in case the bank needs to contact you.

5. Start the Destruction!

Celebrate the end of your banking relationship by shredding any remaining checks and cutting your bank card. This will prevent you from accidentally using the closed account, and it will help keep your information safe from identity theft.

6. Keep a Paper Trail

When you receive a letter confirming that your bank account is closed, file it away for a few years. Also check your credit report occasionally to ensure that nothing unexpected happens with your old account or bank.

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