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Eight Simple Steps to Switching Your Bank 

Posted February 23, 2024 by Cathy Brown
White arrow on a blue brick wall. Photo by Nick Fewings.

So you’ve learned that your bank is financing the fossil fuel industry, and you don’t feel great about depositing your pay there anymore. But you’re busy, and the idea of bank switching makes your head hurt.  

Relax, it’s truly not that difficult. And you don’t have to do it all in one day. We’ll walk you through the steps here.   

Step 1. Choose a new bank  

This step requires asking yourself a few questions about what you want from a bank. For instance:  

  • Do you need to go into a local branch office, or are you comfortable doing all your banking online?  
  • Will you want frequent free access to a large network of cash machines (ATMs)?  
  • Are low- or no-fees accounts important to you?  
  • Do you have a small business and want to keep personal and business accounts at the same bank?  
  • How important is a good interest rate on your account?  

This Bank.Green tool can help you search for a bank that meets our sustainability criteria. It lets you sort those green banks by multiple criteria, such as:  

  • Mobile banking  
  • Free ATM network  
  • No overdraft or account maintenance fees  
  • Various account types, including current accounts, business accounts, and mortgage lending  

Once you’ve landed on a likely candidate or two, don’t hesitate to contact them if you still have questions. They should be more than willing to answer your questions, and if they aren’t, consider that a warning sign.  

Although we’re continuing to rate as many banks as we can, we haven’t yet evaluated every possible bank. If you can’t find one, or the one you’re interested in doesn’t show up when using the tool, let us know. For a small donation ($25/£20) we will research it for you.  

Because we are a small nonprofit organization, your donation helps us continue to do this vital work and lets you move forward with confidence. You can donate here. Then simply email hello@bank.green with your name, the research request, and donation amount and we will respond within one to three business days. 

Step 2. Open your new account 

To make your transition easier, you should have the new account in place before you close your old account. In some cases, you may need to do this in person, but many banks now make it easy to open an account online, often in less than 15 minutes.  

If you’re going in person, be sure to check beforehand what documents they’ll require so you don’t have to make two trips. You’ll probably need to have at least two forms of ID—a driving licence or passport and proof of address such as a utilities bill or council tax bill.  

Find out the minimum balance you need, and then deposit or electronically transfer that amount from your existing bank to set up the account. You may need more than the minimum balance to avoid fees, so keep that in mind as you’re deciding how much to deposit.  

Don’t move all the cash out of your old account just yet though. You need to keep that account open for a while longer.  

If opening your new account is all that you have time for in a single day, you can stop there and pick up with Step 3 a bit later.  

Step 3. Start getting direct deposits in the new account  

Now it’s time to arrange to have any direct deposits from a job or other source go to your new account.   

In the UK, there’s a simple way to do this. You can choose an online service, such as Current Account Switch, and they’ll take care of switching both your automatic deposits and payments. Then you can skip ahead to Step 6.   

But if your bank isn’t part of the Current Switch Account network, or you just prefer to handle this task yourself, the do-it-yourself way is pretty simple.  

Sometimes the bank can help you set up the new direct deposit. Or you may need to contact your employer’s Human Resources department about changing your direct deposit; they likely have a simple form to fill out to make the change.   

Make sure you direct any other automatic deposits you receive to the new account as well. This could include child support payments, government retirement funds, or any recurring transfers from other accounts.  

Step 4. Switch your automatic payments  

This is an important step to make sure you don’t fall behind on payments and get hit with late-payment fees. Make a list of any automatic payments you have coming out of your old bank, such as utility and loan payments, subscriptions, or deposits into retirement or savings accounts.   

Sometimes this switch can be done directly through the new bank’s website or app; sometimes you may need to contact the payee. But either way, it can almost certainly all be done online.  

If you don’t have time to move all your automatic payments in one day, don’t stress about it. You can spread this task out over several days or even weeks if you need to. Just be sure to keep tabs on both your old and new accounts to ensure that you have enough funds to cover those auto payments.  

Step 5. Consider your credit card  

If you have a credit card account with the bank you’re leaving, you will probably need to pay it off before you can close that particular account. However, you can almost always go ahead and close your other accounts with that bank. Check with the bank if you’re not certain what the rules are.   

If you do still owe money on a credit card at a fossil fuel bank, we suggest paying the debt as quickly as possible so your money is no longer helping fuel the climate crisis. Don’t stress if that’s not an option right now though. You’re making an important first step by moving even part of your banking business. 

Step 6. Close your old account  

Wait a month or two to be certain that you don’t have any outstanding cheques or automatic payments coming out of the old account that you’ve forgotten about. And of course, be sure your direct deposits are making it into the new account.  

Then it’s closing time! Transfer all your remaining funds to the new account. Then officially ask that the account be closed. Often this can be done online, but sometimes a bank will require you to come in person or send a notarized letter requesting the closure.

Ask for written confirmation from your bank that the account is closed. This protects you from possible low account balance fees or other accounting mishaps.  

Step 7. Tell the bank why you left  

Send your former bank a letter or email letting them know exactly why you chose to stop doing business with them. Don’t skip this step. It makes your decision far more impactful. If an institution knows that it’s losing customers because of its lending practices, it will be more motivated to change.  

Likewise, let your new bank know that you chose them specifically because you value their more beneficial lending practices.   

Step 8. Spread the word  

Shout it from social media. Toast to it over drinks with your pals. Announce it through a megaphone.  

Whatever communication mode works for you, be sure to let all your friends, family, and acquaintances know you’ve taken this step — and that it really wasn’t all that difficult. Encourage them to do the same. The planet and all its inhabitants will thank you!  

Start to Bank Green Today

Banks live and die on their reputations. Mass movements of money to fossil-free competitors puts those reputations at grave risk. By moving your money to a sustainable financial institution, you will:

Send a message to your bank that it must defund fossil fuels

Join a fast-growing movement of consumers standing up for their future

Take a critical climate action with profound effects

Bank.Green is a project of Empowerment Works Inc. 501(c)(3)