If you decide to move your account from a large megabank to a community bank or credit union -- and we hope you do -- here's a helpful checklist, as provided by the Institute of Local Self Reliance (and reprinted here with permission)
1. Open Your New Account
In most cases, you should be able open a checking account with an initial deposit of $25 to $100. At a credit union, you'll also become a member and co-owner at the same time.
2. Order New Checks and an ATM/Debit Card
These typically arrive within 1 to 2 weeks. You should also consider applying for a credit card from your new local bank or credit union at the same time.
3. Ask Your Employer to Reroute Your Direct Deposit
When you open your new account, ask the bank or credit union for a direct deposit authorization form that includes your new account information. Give this form to your employer and anyone else who makes direct deposits to your account. It may take one or more pay cycles for the change to be made, so keep your old checking account open and watch for the switch.
4. Contact Companies that Direct-Debit Your Account
Using your last bank statement, make a list of any businesses that you've authorized to directly debit your account. Ask your new bank or credit union for an automatic payments authorization form that includes your new account information. Send this to the businesses on your list.
5. Set-up Online Bill Paying for Your New Account
If you like to pay bills online, set up bill payment information for your new account. Also, stop any automatic, recurring payments you have established through your old account.
6. Close Your Old Account
Once you have started receiving direct deposits into your new account and are sure that there are no outstanding checks or automatic debits that need to clear, close your old account. Warning: do not just withdraw the last dollar and assume the account will fade away on its own. Your old big bank may start charging you fees for having an empty or inactive checking account. Instead, follow the bank's procedure for closing out the account.
7. Enjoy your new local banking relationship!