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Tired of Rising Bank Fees?

Switching Accounts is Easier Than You Think

November 2012

Has any financial institution where you keep a checking account been on a “fee-ing frenzy” lately, as BankRate’s latest survey described it?

Recent surveys report significant 2012 increases in many fees related to checking accounts. These include increased minimum balance requirements, ATM fees, and overdraft (NSF) fees. Such increases are a problem because most people manage their daily finances using a checking account and related services including debit cards and online or automatic bill payment. In general, the biggest increases have come from the biggest banks, according to the research.

Do increasing fees make you want to switch your accounts to an institution with fewer and lower fees? If so, you are not alone. About 72% of U.S. adults said they would consider switching accounts if faced with increased fees, according to a July 2012 Bankrate survey. But only 8.7% of customers switched accounts in 2010, according to a study from J.D. Power & Associates. Most of these customers switched because their life circumstances had changed, not to save money.

So why don’t more consumers who are fed up with fees switch? Most think that switching would be too much trouble, a Consumer Reports survey found. People also feel it would take too much time and effort. Analysis also shows that using automatic bill payments, direct deposits and other services in conjunction with a specific account also keeps people from switching from that account.

Switching accounts is easier than you think. The two requirements are 1) a sound plan with tools and 2) patience. Surveys show credit unions and community banks typically offer more free and lower fee options. Educators options include both dividends-earning and noninterest-bearing checking accounts that require no minimum balance, have no monthly service fee (with e-statements), offer a rewards debit card, and have free access to a wide network of ATMs.

This report provides a step-by-step plan to help you switch. If you already have an Educators account you can switch direct deposits and automatic payments and close the other high fee account. If you are moving from another financial institution, it’s easy to open an Educators account that fits your needs and make the switch. Below we outline each step and provide links to the Educator’s Switch Kit and other forms you need to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

Switch your accounts to Educators by following these steps:

  1. Open a new checking account with Educators
  2. Leave your old account open until all services switch to your Educators account
  3. List all direct deposits and automatic withdrawals/payments to be switched to your Educators account
  4. Transfer direct deposits to your Educators account
  5. Transfer automatic withdrawals to your Educators account
  6. Track progress
  7. Close your old account

An Overview of Switching

Switching isn’t hard. You essentially need 3 things:

  • Information about your Educators checking account, old account and the services you are switching
  • Appropriate authorization forms to request the switch for each service
  • A way to track progress

For each step this report provides links to the Educators Switch Kit to help you accomplish each task. For each step below, we also provide additional information to clarify each task and help you do it as quickly as possible.

Step 1: Open a New Checking Account with Educators.

  • Open the account online or in person at an Educators branch. If you open the account in person, an Educators staff member will be happy to review how to switch all services and assist you.
  • Make sure you deposit enough funds to cover any expenses you anticipate paying from the account before your direct deposits have transferred. Educators enables you to open an account with a small amount, then increase the balance as needed.
  • If you already have an Educators checking account, make it your primary account and use the following steps switch all direct deposits, automatic payments and online bill payments to it.

Step 2: Leave Your Old Account Open Until All Services Switch to Your Educators Account

  • Why? It can take from 4 to 8 weeks (30-60 days) for other entities to switch direct deposits and/or automatic payments to your new account.
  • Leave a balance in this account to cover automatic payments you anticipate during the transfer period. After direct deposit has transferred and until all automatic payments have transferred, keeping a sum equivalent to one month’s automatic payments in the old account will enable you to avoid overdrafts.
  • If possible, immediately stop using your old account for daily expenses, including using your debit card, and begin using your Educators account. Destroy checks, deposit slips and debit cards on the old account.

Step 3: List All Direct Deposits and Automatic Payments to be Switched to Your Educators Account.

  • Use the handy PDF checklist in Educators Switch Kit to gather information on all the services you are switching to your Educators account. You can fill in the form online and save it on your computer and/or in a print for a paper file. The form enables you to record account numbers and other information you will need.
  • You may wish to use this alternate checklist which suggests categories of information you may need and enables you to keep track of progress.

Step 4: Transfer Direct Deposits to Your Educators Account

  • Complete the Direct Deposit Change Form in the Educators Switch Kit to authorize the transfer for each entity from which you receive direct deposits.
  • Give the form to your employer(s). You may be able to hand deliver it to the appropriate person or mail it.
  • Some employers may request that you fill in a company-specific form. Social Security, other government entities and pension funds typically request that recipients use their online forms or make the request by phone. Social Security can be reached M-F, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or www.ssa.gov.
  • If possible, ask your employer(s) for the date by which the switch will be made. Typical time frames to allow for completion range from 4 to 6 or 8 weeks.
  • During the transfer period, some employers, Social Security and other entities may mail you a paper check. See each institution’s website for specific information.
  • Unless you have adequate funds from sources other than direct deposit in your new Educators account, it is wise to wait to authorize the transfer of automatic payments to your new Educators account until direct deposits have switched. In that case you will need to keep enough funds in the old account to cover automatic payments until they transfer.

Step 5: Transfer Automatic Payments Your Educators Account

Step 6: Track Progress

  • Use online banking at Educators and your old account to keep track of progress on switching of individual services including direct deposits and automatic payments.
  • Check off progress on your Information and Tracking Checklist and/or Educators’ checklist.
  • Reviewing the status once or twice a week can help you spot any potential problems.

Step 7: Close Your Old Account

  • Complete the Account Closing Request Form to authorize the closing of your old account. Mail the completed form to your previous financial institution. You may also do this by phone or in person. It is wise to request written confirmation if it is not provided.
  • Close the account only after all outstanding items have cleared and the switch is complete for all direct deposits, automatic payments and other services such as online bill pay.

Consider Other Ways Educators May Save You Money

Chances are good that you can save even more money by considering switching other financial services to Educators.

The Big Payoff for Switching

Sure the process is pretty simple, but it will take a little time, you may be thinking now. But let me ask you: how long do you work to make several hundred dollars? Spending a little time to switch accounts to Educators Credit Union can easily save you that much. Taking advantage of other member-owned Educators Credit Union services, such as transferring high-rate credit card balances or refinancing an auto loan, could save you thousands. Your budget’s bottom line will be glad you took a little time to save a lot.


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