New bank account checklist

By Stew

Mrs. Stew and I recently opened new checking accounts in our area. As I shared in February, my wife and I have separate brick and mortar checking accounts for salary direct deposit and regular checking deposits. We then use online savings accounts for bill pay, emergency funds, long term savings, etc. Earlier in the month, we both acquired Chase bonus coupons for $125 and opened our new checking accounts.

Opening a new account is pretty easy, especially since the bank already has all of our information. We use the same online log in and the new account is linked to our old accounts. This is Mrs. Stew’s third Chase checking account in the last four years and my fifth . . . I know, sounds a little crazy to be changing accounts like that all the time, but we have made a combined $1,000 over the past four years, just by opening new accounts. Chase allows customers to redeem the bonus coupons every twelve months and I think that a lot of people do this because the bank officer did not seem too surprised that I wanted a new checking account when I already owned a perfectly good one.

A new checking account every year might sound a little extreme to many of you, but if you ever need to close an old bank account an open a new one, here is the checklist that I have developed:

  1. Destroy old checks.
  2. Destroy old debit cards – especially when they look exactly the same as the card for your new account.
  3. Make sure that all paper checks have cleared. I do not write a lot of these, so it can be easy for me to miss a $25 check that I wrote to the babysitter a month ago and has not been cashed.
  4. Check for all direct deposits and make sure that they have been changed to the new account. Most people do not have more than one or two direct deposits a month. When changing a payroll direct deposit, it sometimes takes 30 days for your employer to file all the paperwork. I always leave my old account open for a month, just to make sure that everything is working properly.
  5. Change direct debits. We do not have many of these, but Mrs. Stew has been “caught” by the newspaper direct debit a time or two.
  6. Online bill pay. I only use the type of bill pay where I generate a check from my bank to the payee, but some of you might use the “electronic” bill pay where you generate payment from the payee’s site. It requires you to link your account, but once your account is linked, you get same day payment. Don’t wait until the day your payment is due to link your new account!
  7. Link to PayPal. Linking your account takes a couple of days and if you use PayPal a lot, you do not want to put this off.
  8. Link to online savings account – if you use one. I am a big fan of ING Direct.
  9. Memorize account number. I always forget to bring or run out of deposit slips that come with my checkbook, so I usually have to write in the account number on the generic deposit slips at the bank. Memorization speeds things up.
  10. Order new checks. Do not order new checks through your new bank before you price new checks through an online printer. It is just about always cheaper.

It is a little ironic that I have changed accounts so much over the past four years, since prior to 2006, I had the same checking account for fourteen years. I have an easier time remember that account number than the number for my current account!

Article by Stew

Photo by CarbonNYC

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