At some banks it will cost you to not do business with them. A fee for closing an account is typically imposed if you close an account within 90 days of opening it, but some banks zap you with the fee if the account is closed within six months. The lowest fee we've seen for this is $5, the highest $25.
This isn't a universal fee; you'll find many institutions that don't charge for this. Before opening an account, ask for a fee schedule, or at least ask specifically if there's a charge for closing an account. If you want to close an account because of poor service or mistakes that the bank has made, and closing would be subject to a fee, request that the fee be waived.
It's also important to follow some guidelines for closing a checking account or you could face some bounced-check fees, and that could give the bank the last laugh.
How to close an account -- without being charged a fee
- Balance your checkbook to make sure all outstanding checks have cleared before you close the account.
- If you've arranged for direct deposit of your paycheck or benefits, don't close the old account until you're sure the next scheduled payment will be going into the new account. Check with your employer to be sure the paycheck has been redirected.
- If you've arranged for automatic deductions from your account, such as mortgage or car payments, have those payments rerouted to your new account before closing the old one.
- Clean out your safe deposit box, return the keys and get a receipt.