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How to Switch Banks in 5 Simple Steps

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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Throughout the years, banks have evolved, grown, and changed. Before there was easy access to the internet, smartphones and their different mobile apps, people had to visit a brick-and-mortar bank to make any financial transactions. It was crucial to choose a bank that was within close proximity to your home or work, and build strong relationships with the teller and bankers. However, as online banking emerged onto the scene, it revolutionized the traditional banking system and now gives consumers so many additional options when it comes to choosing a bank.

It may seem like all banks are the same at the core — they are a safe and secure place to store your money. However, not all financial institutions are created equal. While brick-and-mortar banks still exist, online banks are becoming more competitive, offering better rates and lower fees.

If you’re considering switching banks but don’t how to start the process, this article will walk you through all the things you need to do in order to change banks.

Why switch banks?

To get a break on fees. People switch banks for a variety of reasons. Depending on your bank, you may be paying unnecessary fees for their banking services.

“If your current bank is hitting you with various feesmonthly maintenance fees, minimum balances or ATM feesit could be a motivating factor to switch to a bank with fewer fees,” said Ken Tumin the founder of DepositAccounts.com, which like MagnifyMoney is owned by LendingTree.

To earn a higher yield. Another reason to change banks is to get a higher interest rate on your checking or savings account.

“If you keep an average of $1,000 or less in your checking account, interest rates aren’t going to impact you too much,” said Tumin. “But, if your checking account balance is $20,000, for example, the higher interest rate should be much more of a consideration.”

No matter your reason for switching banks, you can do it fairly easily. We’ll look at how to find a better bank toward the end of this article, but first, let’s go through how to change banks, step by step.

How to switch banks in 5 steps

#1 Shop and compare banks to find the best fit

Sites like MagnifyMoney make it super easy to compare and contrast different banks and weigh their pros and cons. Here are the key features of any bank you should consider before making the switch.

Look for no monthly fee. Many banks offer free checking accounts with no monthly maintenance fee. While some banks offer easy ways to waive the monthly fee, free checking is preferred.

“Big banks make it easy to waive the fee by having direct deposit or by maintaining a minimum balance, but if you lose/switch jobs and don’t have direct deposit or your balance dips, it can be hard to maintain and that’s not a time to worry about monthly fees,” Tumin said. “You’d be better off with free checking and so you don’t have to worry about a monthly fee.”

Then check out their other fees. Banks can charge a variety of monthly or annual fees. These can include monthly maintenance fees, minimum balance fees, foreign transaction fees or ATM fees, just to name a few. While fees may be unavoidable, choose a bank that offers the most benefits and has the least amount of fees.

High rates on checking, savings and CDs bode well.  If you’re looking to deposit a significant amount of money into your checking and savings account or you want access to high yield CDs, you’ll want to choose a bank that offers high rates.  Currently, good rates for a checking account range from 0% to 1.40%, depending on the minimum balance. Good rates for a savings account range from 1.30% to 1.25% on average.

Convenience. Larger banks are likely to have more ATM and branch locations. When choosing a new bank, look at your location and make sure you’re picking a bank that is accessible to you based on your location. If you don’t care for a brick-and-mortar location, there are many online banks to consider. While online banks don’t have a physical branch to visit, they have a wide network of ATMs which are easily accessible and convenient for their customers. Some online banks may even reimburse ATM fees.

Check out the bank’s technology: In today’s fast-paced world, mobile and online accessibility is important to many people. When you’re considering switching to a new bank, check out the tech capabilities of your new bank, and see if they have a mobile app for easy use and access to your account.

FDIC or NCUA insurance. It may seem like a no-brainer, but you’ll want to guarantee that your new bank is either insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), or by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). These institutions ensure that your money is protected.

Because your money and finances are so important, it’s essential to be happy with your bank. If you’re unhappy and have been considering changing banks, feel confident that can find a new bank and make the change in a few easy steps.

#2 Find out your current bank’s account closure process

Before you leave your current bank, you’ll want to inquire about the process to close an existing account. Each bank does things differently, so you’ll want to make sure you’re following the right procedure to close your account properly. Also, you’ll want to do some research on the bank you’re considering switching to so you know you’re making the right decision, (more to come on that note).

#3 Make a list of bills and accounts linked to your current bank account

Give yourself some time before switching banks to make a list of all payments, deposits, and services currently connected to your account. This could include:

  • Direct deposits
  • Monthly bills
  • Monthly transfers
  • Services like PayPal, Venmo, or Apple Pay
  • Checks

Take a look at your bank statements for the last year and highlight all recurring charges. From there, you’ll know exactly which services you’ll need to transfer to your new bank moving forward. Redirecting all your payments and transfers may take some time and coordination, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time.

“Open a new account, slowly migrate over and eventually close the original account,” Tumin advises. “The only reason to rush is if you’re trying to avoid fees.”

#4 Open your new account

Once you’ve found the new financial institution you’d like to bank with, you can start the paperwork and open your new checking or savings account. When choosing between a checking and savings account or money market, assess your short-term and long-term needs.

Checking accounts are best suited for liquid funds, or money you need access to quickly and easily. Nowadays, you can get fairly competitive rates on your checking accounts and earn a little bit of money on your checking account. Check out MagnifyMoney’s 2019 roundup of the best high yield checking accounts.

Savings accounts are a good place to store your rainy day money and your emergency savings. You can access them frequently without fees, but they often offer higher rates compared to checking accounts. You can compare options here.

After you’ve decided whether you’ll open a checking or savings account, or both, you’ll want to transfer money into the new account, wait for it to clear, then start setting up your recurring payments, deposits and transfers with the new bank.

Because mistakes and oversights can happen, it’s smart to keep your old account open for a period of time to ensure everything transferred smoothly.

“It’s important to realize you don’t have to have just one bank account. You can open a new account and keep your current one. There is no rush to close a current account if you don’t have a monthly fee,” Tumin said.

Taking your time can help you avoid mistakes and make the transition smoother.

#5 Close that old account

Once you’ve finalized everything with the transfer, automatic payments have been set up, and bills have cleared using the new account, it’s time to close your old account. Work with your bank to ensure the account is officially closed and all the paperwork is finalized.

You may want to monitor your old account for a few months, even up to a year to ensure your old account doesn’t return from the dead and become a zombie account. A zombie account is an old account that is reopened by the bank and the account holder may not be aware of it.

This can happen if you forgot about a one-time or recurring payment and didn’t re-route it to your new account when changing banks. If that payment goes through your old account, the bank will reopen your dead account, which can result in overdraft fees or other unnecessary charges you’d likely wish to avoid. To avoid an unintentional zombie account, monitor activity on your old account for months after transferring to ensure everything was squared away during the transition.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Banking

What Do I Need to Open a Bank Account?

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The basics you need to open a bank account include a government-issued ID and personal information like your Social Security number and date of birth. Other requirements depend on the type of account you plan on opening. Make the process of opening a bank account as easy as possible by consulting our guide below.

What do you need to open a bank account?

Before applying to open a bank account — in person at a branch, or online — make sure you have the following things ready:

  • A government-issued photo ID: This can include a state-issued driver’s license, a state-issued identification card (an alternative ID for people who don’t drive), a U.S. passport or a military identification card. If you do not have U.S. government-issued identification, some banks and credit unions accept foreign passports and consular IDs.
  • A second form of ID: This can include your Social Security card, a bill with your name and address on it or a birth certificate.
  • Basic personal information: You will need to supply your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), address, birth date and phone number.
  • Proof of address: You need to prove your physical street address, with a utility bill or lease that shows your name and address. Many banks do not accept P.O. boxes as a valid form of address.

Do you need an initial deposit to open a bank account?

Some bank accounts require an initial deposit, and some do not. How much money do you need to open a bank account? It depends on the financial institution.

Many institutions require a minimum deposit to open a bank account, while others allow you to open an account with a zero balance. You can use cash, checks, a money order, a debit card from another account or an ACH transfer to make an initial deposit.

What do you need to open a joint bank account?

If you plan on opening a joint bank account, you will need the paperwork and information outlined above for each of the named owners of the joint bank account. Two or more people who wish to share a bank account can open a joint account. Married couples or people in a relationship often share a joint bank account, but this form of account is available for anyone, regardless of relationship status.

What do you need to open a credit union account?

Credit unions require you to become a member when you open an account. Some credit unions limit membership to people who work in a certain industry or live in a certain city or state. Other credit unions open their membership rolls to anyone, although often you are required to make a one-time charitable donation to join. Check with your credit union of choice before applying to open an account.

What do you need to open a bank account if you are under 18?

Minors under 18 years of age are typically required to have an account co-owner who is over 18. This can be a parent or legal guardian who signs the legal documents.

What do you need to open an online bank account?

The requirements to open an online bank account are very similar to the points we’ve outlined above. Before you enter personal information online, be sure you are on a secure site. Look for the lock symbol or “https://” at the beginning of the URL to verify that your connection is secure. Here’s what you’ll need for opening a bank account online:

  • You will need to enter your personal information into online forms. You should be prepared to enter your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), address, birth date, phone number and email address.
  • You will need a U.S. government-issued form of identification, such as a driver’s license, state-issued ID card (issued for non-drivers), U.S. passport or military identification card. Online banks generally require you to take a photograph of your ID with a mobile device and upload the picture as part of the application process, to verify your identity.
  • Some banks will require you to print out and sign a signature card that you mail in as part of the account opening process. If you are opening a joint online bank account, all parties will need to provide signatures. Signature cards are used to verify your signature when you write or deposit a check.
  • As noted above, some banks require a minimum deposit to open an account while others will allow you to open an account with a zero balance. You can make an initial deposit by ACH transfer from another account using the bank’s routing and account numbers, or by entering a credit card or debit card number.

What kind of bank account do you need to open?

While everyone can benefit from having a checking and savings account, you may have a greater variety of accounts to meet your financial goals. Here are some account types to consider:

  • Checking account: A checking account is for handling everyday transactions, such as paying bills and depositing your paycheck. It provides easy access to your money via paper check, debit card, ATM or ACH transfer.
  • Savings account: A savings account is for stashing money for longer-term financial goals. Generally you should have a checking account and a savings account, as both types comprise your basic tools for sound management of your personal finances.
  • Money market account: A money market account is a hybrid that combines attributes of both checking and savings accounts. Offering higher yields than many traditional savings accounts, money market accounts allow you to access funds via debit cards or checks. In addition to the identifying documents needed to open a checking and savings account, money market accounts typically require a higher initial deposit.
  • Certificate of deposit (CD): With certificates of deposit, you deposit funds for a set period of time and earn a set rate of interest. Some CDs earn higher interest rates than savings accounts.

Do you need to open a second-chance bank account?

If you have a history of too many overdrafts, bounced checks or closed accounts, you may need to open a second-chance bank account. Second-chance accounts let you reestablish your banking bona fides, although they also come with certain limitations or extra fees.

When you apply to open an account, financial institutions check your past banking history to assess how much of a risk it might be to do business with you. ChexSystems provides banking background reports that track your closed checking and savings accounts. The bank will look at your history of overdrawn accounts, negative balances or closed accounts. ChexSystems information typically stays on your report for five years.

What do you need to open a business bank account?

If you want to open a business bank account, the documentation required depends on your business and your location. Here’s what you may need to open a bank account for your business:

  • Ownership documents: You will need to prove the structure of your business, such as sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC or corporation. If your business is owned by more than one person, you will need to provide a partnership agreement that outlines each owner’s rights and responsibilities.
  • Social Security number or Employer Identification Number (EIN): You will need to provide a bank with proof of your EIN. If your business is structured as a sole proprietorship, you can use your Social Security number.
  • Personal identification: The officer of the business will need to provide valid forms of personal identification, such as a driver’s license, state-issued ID card or passport.
  • Business license: Depending on your local government regulations, you may be required to show a business license. Each state and city or township has different guidelines, so check with your area to determine local rules.
  • Assumed name certificate: If your business operates under a name that is different than its legal name, you will need to provide documentation. This is typically called a DBA, or “Doing Business As.” For example, your legal business name might be Sam Smith, LLC, but you do business under the name “Smith Accounting Services.”

What kind of business bank account do you need?

The types of bank accounts available for businesses are broadly similar to personal bank accounts. You may need to open some or all of these accounts:

  • Business checking account: To handle day-to-day transactions, your business will need a business checking account. When you open one, you can deposit revenue and use checks to pay bills. Features vary by financial institution, so make sure to shop around.
  • Business savings account: To save for future purchases or upcoming expenses, you may want to open a business savings account. This will allow you to build a balance and earn a little bit of interest, as well.
  • Business money market account: Another option is a business money market account. This type of account often pays higher interest than a traditional business savings account while offering check-writing privileges. It can help provide a safe place for your earnings to grow and allow you to take care of larger business expenses.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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What Is a Patriot Bond and What Can You Do With It?

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Savings bonds are intrinsically tied to American ideals, serving as a way for American citizens to grow and save their money while supporting the country.

They were originally conceived by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to help finance World War II. The Patriot Bond was created after the devastating attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

What is a Patriot Bond?

A Patriot Bond is a special paper Series EE savings bond created in direct response to the terrorist attacks of September 11. Sold from December 2001 through December 2011, the bond provided a tangible way for Americans to support the country’s reaction to the attacks, as proceeds from the bonds went to an anti-terrorism government fund. A Patriot Bond can be identified by the words “Patriot Bond” printed at the top, in between the owner’s Social Security number and the date the bond was issued.

While the bond may have a unique name, it functions like a standard EE paper savings bond. The bond could be purchased for between $25 and $10,000. It was government-backed, making it a low-risk option for Americans to grow their money.

Each bond was assigned a fixed interest rate that guaranteed the bond would grow in value over time. And just like Series EE savings bonds today, Patriot Bonds could be purchased for a variety of uses, such as saving for retirement, growing a college fund or simply to give as a gift. The Patriot Bond was discontinued in 2012 when the Treasury switched to electronic bonds.

Can I redeem a Patriot Bond if I have one today?

The short answer is yes. While EE bonds typically cannot be redeemed until after 12 months has passed from the date of purchase, the last Patriot Bond was printed well beyond that time frame, making it eligible for redemption. But there are some things to consider before heading to your bank to redeem it.

Ken Tumin, founder of DepositAccounts — which, like MagnifyMoney, is owned by LendingTree — said there are a few conditions you need be aware of before redeeming. Patriot Bonds mature in the same fashion as an EE savings bond, which means they earn interest every year for 30 years. So the longer you have the bond, the more it will be worth. Once the bond hits the 30-year mark, the bond stops accruing interest and reaches maturity, making it the perfect time to redeem.

Tumin said Patriot Bonds, as well as all Series EE bonds, are guaranteed to double in value after 20 years, but you might not need to wait so long. “If someone got a Patriot Bond in 2002, interest rates were much higher back then, so [the bond] could have doubled already,” he said.

If your bond has not yet fully matured, it may be in your best interest to convert it to an electronic bond, which will be helpful if you lose or damage a paper one. TreasuryDirect.gov — part of the  U.S. Department of the Treasury Bureau of the Fiscal Service — has a feature called SmartExchange that can convert your paper bonds into electronic bonds. Electronic bonds are much more efficient when compared to paper bonds. They can be redeemed anytime through the Treasury’s website, as well as transferred easily to another owner.

How do I redeem my bond, and can I take it all?

If you are interested in redeeming your Patriot Bond, you can head to almost any bank to exchange it for cash. In general, paper bonds come with no limitations on how much of the bond’s value you can redeem at once, but some banks may have their own restrictions.

A Patriot Bond can also be redeemed through the Treasury Retail Securities Services. To redeem this way, you must have a certifying officer from a local bank certify your signature on the back of the bond. Once certified, you must then mail the bonds, your Social Security number and the Treasury’s direct deposit form to Treasury Retail Securities Services.

I have a Series I savings bond. Do I cash this in differently?

While Patriot Bonds were printed as Series EE savings bonds, you may be in the possession of a Series I bond. The value of a Series I bond is determined differently since part of the bond’s interest rate is based on inflation (thus the “I” in the name).

Tumin said the bond is first assigned a fixed interest rate that stays with the bond over its lifetime. Then, the bond is given an inflation rate. The inflation rate changes every six months in accordance with the inflation rate, which the Treasury announces on the first business day every May and November. The fixed rate and inflation rates are combined when determining the overall value of the bond.

Just like the EE bonds, an I bond can be cashed 12 months after the date of purchase. The bond also reaches full value maturity after 30 years.

How can I find out how much my Patriot Bond is worth?

Determining the worth of your Patriot Bond is pretty easy.

TreasuryDirect has a simple calculator you can use to find out the value of the bond. You can also use the calendar to see the expected value of the bond in the years to come, which will help determine when you would like to redeem the bond.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.