4 Ways to Stop Automatic Payments From Your Checking Account

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Updated on Tuesday, June 8, 2021

While it can be convenient to authorize a company to receive recurring debit payments directly from your checking account, you may someday need to stop them. If you need to know how to stop these automatic payments, there are available options, from unenrolling online to contacting your bank or the company charging your account.

Federal law provides protections against those recurring payments, including a consumer’s right to stop a company from charging them even if they were previously allowed. Read on to learn more about the steps you can take to stop recurring debit charges from your checking account.

1. Cancel your recurring charges through auto-pay

Depending on the company, you should be able to easily cancel your recurring charges online. If you want to continue to receive a product or service but pay in a different form other than automatic debit payments, try unenrolling from auto-pay by logging into your account on the merchant’s website, or calling or visiting them in person. Spectrum, Verizon, and AT&T are some of the companies that allow you to easily unsubscribe from automatic debit payments online. You’ll need to provide an alternative form of payment before your next bill to avoid any late charges.

If you want to stop automatic payments and halt your services with the merchant as well, you may be able to cancel your subscription or ongoing service by logging into your account online or contacting the company over the phone, through the mail or in person. If you’re unable to cancel a recurring charge this easily, your next best option may be to formally contact the company.

2. Contact the company to revoke authorization

If a company doesn’t provide an easy way to cancel automatic payments online or over the phone, you may have to write a letter to the company informing them that you have revoked authorization for charging automatic payments from your checking account. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) provides a simple sample letter for the revocation of authorization for debits on their website. Make sure to keep a copy of your notice revoking authorization to charge in case you need to provide it to your bank.

Ultimately, you’re not required to notify the merchant in order to stop automatic debit payments from being charged to your checking account.

3. Contact your bank to revoke authorization

There are several ways to contact your financial institution and request that they stop processing a recurring debit payment. Different banks and credit unions have different methods for stopping automatic payments: This includes some that have simple steps to cancel payments online, though other financial institutions may not provide that service. You may be able to call or visit a local branch to put in a request to stop an automatic payment.

4. Request a stop payment order

Your last option, if necessary, is a stop payment order, which often comes with a small fee from your bank. A stop payment order is a formal request submitted to your financial institution to prevent an automatic debit payment, and it must be made before the payment has been processed (it can also be used to stop payment on a personal check). Generally, this should be your last resort if you’ve been unable to get the merchant or bank to stop automatic payments through other methods.

In order to stop the next scheduled debit charge, provide your bank or credit union with a stop payment order at least three business days before the payment is scheduled. In order to stop future payments, you may need to provide a written document to your financial institution, though many banks accept stop payment orders over the phone. Some banks and credit unions may require proof of your revocation of authorization to the merchant.

Once you’ve requested the stop payment order, you should be all set.

What to do after stopping automatic payments

If you’ve stopped automatic payments from your checking account, you still should continue to check your transaction history to see if there are any unauthorized charges. As long as you’ve contacted your financial institution in time, you may be able to dispute future charges if they appear on your account.

Even though you’re legally able to prevent a company from charging your checking account, you may still be contractually obligated to continue providing payment to them for a service or product. For example, you can stop automatic debit payments on a car loan, but you’ll still have to pay down the balance per the loan agreement. In situations like these, you’ll need to provide an alternative source of payment other than your checking account.

Automatic payments: FAQ

Automatic debit payments are charges made from your bank account by a company who’s been given authorization to make those withdrawals. Banks also allow customers to set up recurring payments from a bank account — an option often called bill pay — that sends electronic payments via a digital check to a company on a regular basis.

Automatic payments are a convenient way to make regular payments for rent, utilities, loans and subscription services. They help ensure that payments are made on time so you don’t risk late fees or cancellations, and so you don’t have to rely on paper checks. Some companies also give a discount for setting up automatic payments.

There are no fees for automatic payments themselves, but there are standard overdraft fees if the cost of the recurring debit charge is higher than the account balance. Be sure to keep track of your balance to make sure the account isn’t overdrawn.

The cost of a stop payment order varies by bank, but they generally cost around $30 per order. Check with your bank to determine the exact cost.

Canceling a debit card won’t necessarily stop recurring payments. A recurring debit charge can be made as a continuous payment authority, which grants companies access to the bank account itself and not the debit card.