It may seem daunting to move your money or to get other people and organizations in your town to follow your lead. We put together these resources for you to use and share with others. Can’t find the info you need here? Contact us and we’ll do our best to help you out.
Why should I move my money?
Not only will you probably get a better deal and more personal service at a community bank or credit union, but you’re also helping take the power away from the “Too Big To Fail” Wall Street banks that engaged in risky financial practices and helped cause the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. Plus, you’re helping out your community, since local financial institutions do more lending to small businesses and help revitalize communities by spurring job growth. The money that you deposit in community banks and credit unions stays local and helps build a more vibrant economy. Lastly, by supporting the safe and sound practices of local financial institutions, you are helping to nurture a more stable and responsible financial system for the future.
Will moving my money really make a difference?
Each individual account is significant to the big banks who make big profits from checking, savings and transaction accounts. When thousands of people move their money, it creates a wide-spread social phenomenon beyond the amount of money involved. People everywhere are moving their money to small, community-minded institutions and spreading the word around the web. Major news organizations have taken notice, and the effort only gets stronger as more people get involved. Dennis Santiago explains more about how your actions matter here.
Which banks should I be avoiding?
Most people are trying to avoid the six largest banks that engaged in casino-style financial practices (credit default swaps, derivatives trading, etc…) and that are largely to blame for the financial crisis — Citi, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. The banks and credit unions we encourage people to look at largely avoided these kind of financial tricks, and then did not reward their executives with massive bonuses.
Big banks have the advantage of inertia. Moving your checking and savings accounts is not as simple as switching grocery stores. You’ll have to maintain both your new and old accounts for a few weeks until everything switches over. That can be a little tricky, especially if you’re living paycheck to paycheck. After you’ve found your new financial institution, follow this simple sequence compiled by Stacy Mitchell of the New Rules Project’s Community Banking Initiative and keep an eye on things. It should go smoothly and, in a few weeks, you’ll be in a brand new banking relationship.
1. Open your new account.
In most cases, you should be able open a checking account with an initial deposit of between $25 and $100. At a credit union, you’ll also become a member and co-owner at the same time.
2. Order your new debit/ATM card and checks.
These typically arrive within 1 to 2 weeks. You may also want to apply for a credit card from your new local institution.
3. If you use direct deposit, ask your employer to reroute your paycheck to your new account.
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. Meanwhile,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!
One of the best ways to keep this movement going is to spread the word, both online and on-the-ground. The reason most people stick with their big banks is because of lack of motivation. Most people don’t even think about where they bank or why. Use our flier — or make your own — and pass them out to tell people about the benefits of banking locally. Download the flier here (pdf).
Individuals should move their personal accounts, but small businesses, churches, nonprofits and other institutions can make an even bigger impact by moving their operating funds and various accounts. Use our simple guide to identify and overcome possible obstacles to moving large amounts of institutional money. Feel free to contact us if you run into additional problems and we’ll see what we can do to help. Download our advice here (pdf).
Trying to convince your group, neighborhood coalition or business alliance to bank locally? There are so many reasons for different organizations to move their money, so we tried to put together some advice and talking points aimed at specific audiences. Use them, pass them around, and let us know if there are other groups we should be worried about.
Our video has had a lot of success reaching people and empowering them to create financial reform on their own. It’s a simple message, but one that has the potential for serious change. Pass it along.