December 28, 2012

5 Simple Steps I Took to Leave My Bank

Comment December 28, 2012 by Triangle Credit Union

This past October we celebrated International Credit Union Day with 51,000 Credit Unions in over 100 countries and were reminded that the spirit of cooperativism and democracy that are the roots of the Credit Union movement are truly a global phenomenon. And with public campaigns such as Bank Transfer Day sending millions of consumers to Credit Unions, it is clear too that not only is this movement global, it is active and growing.

But as the public becomes more aware of Credit Unions as a counterpoint to banks, it is important that we spread awareness of the steps needed to make a switch. I know I put off joining my Credit Union, like many others, because I saw switching my bills and direct deposit as a Herculean task. With a bit of research and some patience, though, making the switch is as easy as these five steps.

  • Become a member – before you do anything else, join. It’s real easy. Typically you’ll have the option of joining online or in-branch, whatever your preference might be. My credit union, Triangle Credit Union, allowed me to become a member – based on my county of residence – by purchasing a $25 share (which I’d get back if I were to ever leave). With just that nominal deposit, I was able to establish my checking account, and online savings.
  • Set up your bill pay – familiarize yourself with your Credit Union’s online banking while plugging in next month’s payments. I thought this would be such a chore, but to add the 20 or so billers I keep saved in my bank’s bill pay, it took me no more than 15 minutes. Triangle’s bill pay recognized all of my billers within a few keystrokes. You’ll be surprised to see many, if not more, of the 21st century online services – person to person payments, ebills, debit rewards, etc. – you thought you’d be leaving behind at your bank, in full swing at your credit union.
  • Change your direct deposit – fill out your employer’s form, hand it in and take a breather. Though this step may take a few weeks, you’ll be still waiting on your debit card, checks, and familiarizing yourself with your Credit Union’s services so no hurry. As soon as it hits, though, you’ll be up and running, ready to go.
  • Transfer your funds – leaving behind enough to cover outstanding bills and any minimum balance requirement, transfer enough to your credit union to begin paying your first set of bills. This can more than likely be done online through your bank’s institution to institution transfer section, just make sure you allow yourself enough time to verify the initial deposits and for the 3 business days for the funds to travel to your credit union.
  • Close your bank account – physically go into a branch and close your account. After working at a bank for 7 years, I’ve seen what happens when people think they’ve closed their accounts, maintenance fees can still hit if you’re not properly closed. The only way to be sure you’ve closed out is to leave the branch with a receipt and the business card of whoever helped you.

It does take time and effort to switch from a bank to a credit union, but it’s a decision that you’ll be proud of for a lifetime. According to New York Times columnist, Ron Lieber, the switch shouldn’t take more than 90 minutes. But, if you can’t break your daily routine to do the legwork of switching, consider financing your next car, refinancing your mortgage, or opening your child’s first savings account at a credit union. Once you’re in the door, you’ll find it’s a welcoming home for you and your family’s finances. To join in branch, please bring with you two forms of ID with one being a primary ID and if your address does not match your ID, please bring with you a copy of your current lease agreement, utility bill, or paystub.

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