How to Fire Your Bank

Oh, big banks. How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways…

This is a guide to firing your bank and joining a credit union. I’ve included the tips & tricks I’ve learned while helping clients make the shift with their chequing account. Comment below if you have questions or have run into a roadblock yourself and want to share. 

1.       Choose a Credit Union

Your first step is to decide who’s getting your business. I did a search for credit unions in my city (Toronto) on Google Maps and found a long list of Credit Unions in my area. Remember, they all use ATMs connected through The Exchange Network so you don’t necessarily need to join the one closest to your home/work—all Credit Union members are able to use these Exchange Network ATMs for free! I looked for the lowest fees (because I’m cheap) and found a nice no-fee chequing account.

2.       Join the Credit Union

It’s a lot like joining a bank. There’s lots of paperwork and clicking ‘Yes, I agree’. You can usually do it online (make sure you have a blank cheque for your initial deposit), or you can bring your documentation into a branch. If you run into a problem, just call customer service. Some Credit Unions have online chat support, which I prefer. Start with a chequing account knowing that it’s easier to open other accounts once you’re a member and can access their system.

3.       Tell Your Boss

If you have a steady job and get paid through direct deposit, then your HR department can be your only call. The rest of us “independent contractors” need to inform all our sources of income. Cheques and e-transfers are easy—you’ll just deposit them in your new account! Don’t forget to contact the CRA. If you’re like me, you get benefits and credits through direct deposit and you don’t want them to get lost in a bureaucratic black hole.

4.       Add Bill Payees

Next up are the bills that you pay from your bank account. Go through your last few statements and simply add regular payees onto your shiny new Credit Union online platform. If you have any trouble, you can always call the company that you are paying. Believe me, they’ll be so happy you called before the next payment bounces. I guess most people don’t…

5.       E-transfer Yourself the Balance

The last step is to move your money. I had about $1,000 and the fastest thing was just to e-transfer myself the balance. Alternatively, you can write yourself a cheque and deposit it in your new account, although cheques will take a few days to clear.

6.       Wait a Month

I suggest waiting a month just to see if there are any glitches or automatic payments that you missed. It was worth the extra monthly fee to make sure that there were no transactions that I missed.

7.       FIRE YOUR BANK

Get creative! I got a lot of satisfaction from smugly walking into my branch, closing my account, and asking for a pair of scissors to cut up my debit card right in front of them. But whatever floats your boat! Just remember to tell everyone on social media why you fired your bank and I’d love to hear some stories in the comments below.

Good Luck!

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commented 2017-01-11 20:48:40 -0500
I joined a credit union a year ago and I am super glad I switched over. The level of service has been so amazing. I switched because I wanted more control and say over where my money was in turn invested. The amazing service we got through the process of getting our mortgage wasn’t expected but was an incredibly nice surprise.

Tim – do you have anything written up on why one might choose a credit union over a bank?
commented 2017-01-10 16:24:47 -0500
Great advice Tim!
commented 2017-01-10 16:01:50 -0500
Asking for a pair of scissors makes for a great movie scene, Tim! Beautifully done, especially knowing you have sound reasons for it and provide concrete alternatives as you did in this post. Well done.
Marco
Don't let your money do things you wouldn't