First Niagara has lost my banking business. I was a National City customer, and First Niagara and PNC are buying up National City. My accounts split between the two banks, and it was impossible for us to continue on like that.
I was willing to give First Niagara a chance. A pack of checks arrived in the mail and I was promised a debit card soon after. The thing never came. I called and they said they would expedite a new card to me. Still no card.
I couldn’t find any credit unions we’d be eligible to join, so I sought a bank with plenty of branches and ATMs near me, with free banking for my needs and a high interest (by today’s standards) savings account. PNC and their Virtual Wallet will do the trick for us.
Even though our National City accounts would automatically be converted to PNC in November, I wanted to move our accounts now since that’s still a long time.
We set up an account online, and have received checks and debit cards. Time to move our money around!
My pal Mrs Money just happens to be a bank branch manager, and she helped me figure out a few ways to move my savings from First Niagara to PNC.
- Cash withdraw — Not a recommended method if you’re moving your life savings, but ok if it’s a small amount. While it’s fast, I would be too afraid to withdraw all that money and drive it down the street. If you do choose this method, be sure to deposit it with an actual teller and get a receipt. Don’t ever deposit cash into an ATM. There’s no real record of you doing it.
- Write a check to yourself — A fun way! Using your old bank’s checks, write a check payable to yourself signed by yourself. No fees, it’s safe and the teller at PNC told me it would take about one business day to process. Bye, FN!
- Electronic Funds Transfer – or EFT. After opening an account with your new bank, you’ll need to link the accounts electronically (each bank has its own way to do it). You’ll have to enter your routing numbers, and the bank will typically send a test deposit to verify the account. This process takes a few business days. Once confirmed, you can electronically send money from one bank to another. It takes a few business days for the money to clear, so only do this if you can wait for the funds to arrive.
- Cashier’s checks / money order — Mrs Money told me these only go up to $1,000 each. Fees can range from $3 to $5 per check/money order, unless you have special accounts with your bank. These are guaranteed funds, and helpful if you need access to your money pronto.
- Wire transfers — These are same-day and cost $17 at Mrs Money’s bank, and there may be a fee on the receiving end as well. Probably better to find another way to send the money.
If you choose a money-moving method with a lag time that spans a few days, you might want to move your money in two batches. That way, if an emergency springs up while your money is in limbo, you’ll still have access to a big portion of it.
Another thing to keep in mind: Mrs Money told me that with some banks if you write a check to cause your account balance to reach $0.00, it’ll close automatically. If it zeros out with an EFT, you can potentially reopen it. In any case, if you have a pending check or automatic bill pay item, it might still be processed and you could be zinged with fees.
Be sure to check with your old bank to find out its specific policies.
And, be sure to link all of your bill pay accounts to your new bank and cancel them out of your old. That’s what I’ve got to do now.
All of this money-moving is a bit of a hassle, but it does have a good side. Since we moved in June, we had yet to order checks with our new address. We don’t write many checks, but we needed some more for the times we do. Instead of buying a new batch, we got some for free from our new bank. Yay!