Where you put your money matters for the planet. How? About 90% of the money you deposit in a bank goes out to finance things. So, depending on the bank you choose, your money might be financing Arctic drilling or coal-fired power plants. On the other hand, your deposits could be out in the world doing good—like financing solar projects, electric cars, or green buildings. It depends on the bank you choose.
Grassroots movements are digging into the connection between banking, fossil fuels, and climate change. The link between our money and our planet’s future is more relevant now, as everyone works not only to recover from COVID-19 but to nurture a sustainable recovery.
One way to begin your own sustainable recovery, is switching from a bank that fuels global warming to one that finances a sustainable future. This is a process that can be done from home. Read on to learn how to switch banks in the five steps we recommend.
Step 1: Open your new account
At Bank of the West, you can apply to open a new checking or savings account online here. There are a couple of options for both savings and checking accounts, so pick the one that best meets your needs. The application process takes about 10 minutes, and you’ll need a government-issued ID, like a driver’s license.
While switching banks isn’t as complicated as one might think, it shouldn’t be done in one fell swoop. You’ll want to keep your old account open for a few months after opening your new account just to make sure things like automatic payments, linked accounts, and direct deposits get transferred smoothly.
Step 2: Review your automatic payments and direct deposits
This part is key to switching banks without any unexpected hassles. Review your old bank account transactions and make a list of all linked automatic payments—go back at least a year to catch charges that come annually, monthly, or at other intervals. Examples of such charges include utility bills, cable subscriptions, and gym memberships.
You’ll also want to switch linked accounts connected to payment apps such as Zelle, Venmo, PayPal, and Cash App.
Track which automatic payments are connected to a debit card, and which are connected to a checking account. This will further help keep things organized for a smooth transition.
Step 3: Organize your new account and transfer funds
If you open a Bank of the West checking account, you’ll be able to see your account and routing numbers immediately through your online account or mobile app. Your new debit card should arrive by mail within about a week.
With your debit card, account number, and routing number all in hand, you can move most of your money to your new account. This can be done online. You can also set up direct deposit for your paychecks if your job gives you that option. You should do the same for Social Security payments if you receive those.
Here is a tip, though: Temporarily keep a reasonable amount in your old bank account to cover any outstanding checks and automatic payments that don’t migrate to your new bank account properly. It is important that you avoid the rejection of any payments that you would like to have honored.
This way, you’re covered in the event of any unplanned wrinkles in making the change. If your old account requires a minimum balance, keeping enough money there will also save you from associated fees.
Step 4: Migrate your automatic payments and linked accounts
Now you’ve gotten your new bank account and debit card. You’ve moved money into your new account from your old account, and you’re depositing your paychecks into your new account.
This is a good time to take that list you made in Step 2 above, and migrate all those automatic payments and linked payment apps to your new bank account. Now you’re almost done switching bank accounts. But we do recommend one more thing to ensure a smooth transition.
Step 5: Wait a few months, then close your old account
You can cut up your old debit card at this point, but it is recommended to keep your old bank account open for a few months longer just to make sure all your automatic payments have been switched over successfully.
Once you’re sure of this, go ahead and transfer the rest of your funds from your old bank account to your new one. Then, close your old account—the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends getting written confirmation that this has been done.
Congratulations! Did you switch bank accounts to move your money to an institution that finances sustainable energy instead of fossil fuels? If so, you can now feel confident that your money is helping create a sustainable recovery and a more livable future.