October 27, 2011
Much like credit unions, Bank Transfer Day started small and has grown into a full-fledged movement. Are you ready to make a change? Leaving your bank can seem intimidating, but switching to a not-for-profit credit union and making it your primary financial institution is easy and quick.
For starters, you need to find a credit union that suits you. Go to ASmarterChoice.org or LoveMyCreditUnion.org to gather information about individual credit unions, or just visit any credit union branch. Virtually all credit unions offer checking accounts, savings accounts, credit and debit cards, and most of the other features typically associated with a bank. Online banking is common among credit unions as well, and many are also part of a huge nationwide shared branching network, meaning you can use any participating credit union branch or ATM as if it were your own.
Once you’ve chosen a credit union that fits your needs, you’ll need to become a member—which is much the same as opening an account at a bank. But at a credit union, instead of opening an account that profits the bank’s shareholders, your account is working to earn dividends for you and the other members.
Just like opening a bank account, you can join a credit union by simply walking into a branch and talking to a member service representative (MSR), and you can often also apply online or over the phone.
Bank Transfer Day is urging consumers to make the change on Sat., Nov. 5, 2011. However, to avoid potentially long waits, credit unions are encouraging people to make the switch before that—to join as soon as they can. Additionally, many credit unions and bank branches aren’t open on Saturdays. If you plan on switching on the fifth, call ahead and make an appointment to make sure you are seen.
You’ll want to bring the account information from your current bank account. Once you have become a member of your new credit union, tell your MSR that you want to make the complete switch—that you want to completely leave your bank. He or she will be able to give you any information you need to make this happen.
From there, you’ll just need to start transferring your online presence to reflect your new accounts. Gather all information on automated debits and/or direct deposits, such as your paycheck, and inform the credit union and your employer of the change. If you pay any of your bills online, you’ll just need the names and account numbers in order to make a seamless transition. If you use an online bill pay service at your previous financial institution, be sure to cancel each payee.
In some cases, direct deposits can include things like taxes, retirement and pension plan accounts, as well as expense reimbursements. Social Security customers will need to call the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 or go to www.ssa.gov, and if you have direct deposits through the military, visit myPay.
To have the biggest impact on your old bank, you can also transfer larger things like loans and mortgages. Credit unions are often able to offer better rates than their for-profit competitors, so for more information on this process and why it is important, talk to your MSR.
Questions or Concerns? Contact Matt Halvorson, Anthem Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org.