If you’re sick of your bank hitting you with unreasonable fees, closing the account may seem like an obvious solution. However, this is where things can get really frustrating, because taking that step can produce a flurry of additional charges.
Here are ways you can avoid some of the most common costs of closing a bank account. And as you look for a new checking account, make sure to read the terms and conditions very carefully so you won’t face unexpected costs later on.
Early Closure Fees: Many banks require customers to keep an account open for a certain period of time–often 90 to 180 days–or face what’s known as an early closure fee.
Examples include Citibank Basic Checking and Citigold ($25 if closed within first 90 days), Comerica Premier Checking ($10 if closed within first six months) and BB&T Elite Gold ($25 if closed within first 90 days).
To avoid these charges, the account must be kept open past the minimum time period–so it may make sense to maintain it just a little bit longer, even if you barely use it, to hold down other costs.
Minimum Balance Fee: Some banks apply a monthly charge if a minimum balance isn’t maintained. For example, Bank of America requires a minimum daily account balance of $1,500 or the direct deposit of at least $250 each month for its Core Checking customers to escape a $12 monthly fee.
You might get hit with this sort of charge if you’re shifting to a new account and wait too long to close the old one to let prior transactions clear. Also, make sure you have stopped any direct deposits and previously scheduled payments into and out of the account to be closed, because such transactions could automatically reopen the account.
Overdraft Fees: These charges can result if your balance falls to $0 and a new debit or check hits, which could easily happen when you are switching to a new bank. For example, if you’ve transferred your balance from an account to be closed, but forget an automatic bill payment scheduled to be made from that account, the transaction would leave you overdrawn.
Overdraft fees vary by bank. Some of the biggest, such as Bank of America and Capital One, charge $35 for each overdraft on their Core and Rewards checking accounts while Citibank applies a $34 fee on its Basic checking accounts. Some, like KeyBank with its Hassle-Free account and Capital One with its 360 Checking don’t charge overdraft fees.
To avoid overdrafting an account you’re closing, make sure to redirect automatic payments to be made from a different account and reroute direct deposits as well. Also make sure you transfer the correct amount of money from the old account.
Stop Payment Fee: As you wrap up an old account, you might want to cancel a check that you wrote but which hasn’t been cashed, in order to shut down activity in the account to be closed. Many banks impose a charge for such stop payment orders, and they can be costly: $31 for Wells Fargo Value Checking customers, $30 for Chase Total Checking and $34 on BB&T Elite Gold accounts, just to name a few. It may make more sense to hold off closing the account until all checks written against it have cleared instead of seeking a stop payment order.
Wire Transfer: You’ll likely face a charge to electronically move your funds from an account to be closed to a new account, called a wire transfer. This way of moving funds is fast and secure, but it can be very costly. Fees vary from bank to bank, but the average domestic bank wire transfer costs about $41 . While it may take longer, you may be better off finding another way to move your money.
Steve Nicastro is a financial writer for NerdWallet.com, where he covers topics such as investing, credit cards, mortgages and insurance. Previously, Steve was a local editor at Patch.com and a contributor for Seeking Alpha and GoBankingRates.com.