The following steps will liberate you from your mega-bank. You can also download them as a poster.
Find a new community development bank or credit union. As you research your new bank, be sure to ask about fees, services, and the details about the banking products you need. Make sure the institution you select is FDIC or NCUA-insured.
Open your new account with a small deposit while keeping your normal mega-bank account open. Order the products you need such as checks, debit cards, and deposit slips.
Make a list of your automatic deposits, like your paycheck, or automatic withdrawals, like your phone bill.
Move your automatic deposits to your new account. If you have direct deposit for your paycheck, ask your employer to transfer your paychecks to your new account (you will likely need to provide a voided check from your new account to your employer). The same holds true for Social Security payments or other forms of income you receive automatically into your account. Ask for the date on which the payment to your new account will take place.
Move your automatic withdrawals to your new account (you will likely need to provide the routing and account numbers at the bottom of your checks). When you know that sufficient funds will be in your new account, transfer your automatic payments so they are now deducted from your new account. Ask for the date on which the payments from your new account will begin. It’s wise to leave a small amount of cash in your mega-bank checking account for at least a month after you think you have shifted your deposits and withdrawals to your new bank or credit union, just to guard against any unforeseen circumstances like checks you wrote that hadn't been cashed, or payments you forgot about.
If you only have online banking through your mega-bank, take screenshots of statements or print them out. Save them for your records and keep canceled checks you may later need.
Transfer the final funds from your mega-bank account to your new account – once you have all your automatic deposits and payments transferred and any last checks have cleared your old account. Electronic transfer of these final funds to your new account is usually the fastest and safest method to use.
Close your mega-bank account. Once the last remaining funds in your old account have transferred to your new account, follow the bank’s procedures for closing accounts. Obtain written confirmation that your account is closed.
Inform your bank why you are breaking up (You can use our sample letter as a guide).
Encourage your workplace, congregation, or alma mater to use a community development bank or credit union if they do not already do so. Also, if you are on the board of any nonprofits, or live in a condo or housing co-op, encourage these organizations to switch too. For colleges and universities, turn to Responsible Endowments Coalition.
Tell all your friends and family about your great new banking relationship and why you made the choice to switch.
Take action to put the rest of your money to work creating a greener planet. Get Green America’s Guide to Socially Responsible Investing.