What to Do When Your Bank Branch Closes

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Banks shutting doors
In the past year, banks and thrifts have closed more than 750 branches in the U.S., with 43 states seeing more closures than openings. The methods that banks use to manage and move the accounts of their affected customers vary depending on the reason for the closure, and by bank, but even people who rarely step foot into their local branch should take notice.

"It's rare that you'll have a bank location that becomes a restaurant or a gas station," says John Hall, senior vice president of the American Banking Association. "In most cases, you'll have another bank move in, whether because they bought the lease or because they've merged with the existing bank."

If a bank merges with another, customers have the option of either keeping the existing account with the same bank, and continuing (or beginning) to use ATMs and online banking for the bulk of their needs, or changing to the new bank that will come into the existing location.

If that decision isn't made purely on the location of the branch, other factors come into play. While the days of getting a toaster when opening a new checking account are long gone, the new bank may either honor the existing rates or offer special promotional rates for customers who make the switch. So be sure to compare rates of the two banks -- everything from checking account fees to credit card interest rates to mortgages.

Great, Now What Am I Supposed to Do?

Should a branch simply close, the bank will focus heavily on the non-store services available. "While a safe deposit box may be a location-specific service," Richele Messick, a representative for Wells Fargo, says, "most banking services are not tied to the store location." She points out that customers can bank by mail, online, phone, ATM, or at another bank location.

It's an industry line. Tara Burke, a representative for Bank of America, says that the bank offers online, mobile and telephone banking, as well an app that allows for deposits via smartphone. Neil Brazil, vice president and senior manager of media relations for HSBC North America, also points to HSBC's extended telephone service hours and ATMs that can manage most routine transactions, including deposits.

But even customers who switch from in-branch to ATM banking may be in for some surprises.

The battle over branches is being fought on a smaller battlefield, as banks increasingly jockey for high-performing, low-cost locations to service their customers. Bloomberg reports that Bank of America diminished its ATM network by nearly 9% this year, by removing the machines from gas stations and malls. JPMorgan Chase expanded its network by 5%. (JPMorgan didn't not respond to requests for comment.) And should a branch close, its 24-hour, storefront ATMs will close with it.

Should You Stay or Should You Go?

Once rumors of a closure or a merger begin to spread, customers should begin to identify their options. It's always a good idea to leave a time cushion when transitioning from one bank to another, and banks vary in how much notice they'll give customers of an impending closure.

Some questions to ask:

  1. When will this closure take effect?
  2. Where is the closest branch?
  3. Will any ATMs close along with the branch?
  4. Does the nearest branch have the same hours and provide the same services?
  5. Whom do I contact with questions?
  6. Is there a new bank moving into this space?

Customers who have items in safe deposit boxes will be notified anywhere from 30 to 90 days, depending on the bank. Wells Fargo will move the box contents to a new location and notify the customer. HSBC will ask the customer to close the box at one location and open a new one at another location. Bank of America works on a case by case basis.

Hall says that despite the plethora of ways to bank, branches will never become completely obsolete. "While banks have added additional, convenient banking methods -- from ATMs to mobile-banking -- the branch remains a solid mainstay for accessing bank products. Different consumers have different preferences."

To customers who need regular access to a branch for additional services, whether they require small bills for a business till or help filling out a mortgage application, Hall says not to fear.

"Banking is an extremely competitive industry," he says. "There are so many options on how to bank today, that even in rural areas, there's a solution for everyone."


Motley Fool contributor Molly McCluskey doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned. Follow her travel and finance tweets on Twitter @MollyEMcCluskey. The Motley Fool owns shares of JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Wells Fargo. Motley Fool newsletter services formerly recommended JPMorgan Chase.


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Delaware Jack

Noted expert Peter Schiff says the U.S. economy is on the verge of an economic collapse worse than 2008 and is warning Americans to take immediate steps to protect themselves…….. Schiff warns that while any moves the Fed makes this year could "artificially" bolster the economy - and bring investors false hope that things are turning around - the truth is that the government will only be delaying the "Day of Reckoning." ……. "If the Fed ultimately comes through with QE3... it won't strengthen the economy, but it will weaken the dollar," Schiff said, noting that Bernanke's policies will eventually lead to a Greek style debilitating sovereign debt crisis where the dollar plunges and consumer prices and interest rates spike…….. "We have a much bigger collapse coming, not just the markets, but of the economy. It's like what you're seeing in Europe right now only worse," Schiff said. …….An Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker followed a team of scientists, economists, and energy analysts to explore an incomprehensible financial crisis that's facing average Americans. …… Schiff goes on to say that things will get truly ugly when we hit our fiscal cliff and have to slash government spending across the board……. "People on entitlements like Social Security and Medicare... they're not going to get the benefits they've been promised. Government workers are going to have to take pay cuts... banks are going to fail... people are going to lose money, not just investors but depositors. The housing market is going to fall again.". ……And Schiff isn't the only expert warning about the U.S. economy's dire predicament. …… A group of prominent scientists, economists and geopolitical experts have uncovered an emerging pattern... one they believe could soon hasten an American economic catastrophe - and a radical hit to the wealth and financial security of millions Americans. ….. Germany's military held a secret investigation into this emerging pattern and concluded it could lead to "political instability and extremism." ……. A large part of this has to do with the velocity of total credit market debt. It's part of a pattern of accelerating debt - and few have been able to track the speed of it, which is growing at a rate even faster than just a few months ago. ….. Chris Martenson, a highly acclaimed scientist and an expert on exponential growth, says the dangerous pattern of accelerating debt can go unnoticed at first. But what's happening underneath the radar is the speed of the doubling, which is now accelerating even faster to an unsustainable level. ….."That's when chaos breaks out," Martenson says……. As of today, the total credit market debt is 357% larger than GDP. That represents an astounding $691,000 for a family of four in America……. Yet the doubling period for this gets shorter at an exponential rate that increases every day. "It's a very dangerous exponential growth curve," says Martenson, "one that's setting us up for a situation worse than we've seen in Greece and across Europe."…… "Every American needs to know what this means and what steps to take with your finances, investments and day-to-day life to prepare for it, "Martenson added.

August 07 2012 at 1:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Delaware Jack's comment
evd10

Peter Schiff is like a broken clock, right twice a day.

August 08 2012 at 10:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Morris Cantonitis

The Werld, Regulators and FBI swarm the NYSE floor with sledge hammers, switchblades and guns.

The PIGG is in NYC with ALL MM’s, Hedge Funds, Brokerages and Satan’s Bankers
The PIGG is in Infidelity Brokerage with their criminal MM connections
The PIGG is in E-Plague Brokerage with their criminal MM connections
The PIGG is in Wells Fargo with their criminal MM connections
The PIGG is in ALL Brokerages.

As stated, back in the beginning of May and NO more than 10 minutes later after being bought, all these STOCKS (AIG, YUM, XLE, VWO, TIVO, LVS, WYNN, MCD, GRPN, DNDN, F, DIA, DG, LNKD, QQQ, QLD, XLF, IYZ & SLV) were TANKED bye NYC PIGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGS and their cronies the RED PLAGUE Bcause U bought America & Werld and the SEC NOSE. Right up the RED chain and their NOSES where ALL THE VERMON and Anell Mustard iz.

List EVERY trade U make America on the Internet, Brokerage Order Number and Time of Trade and send 2 the Shareholders Foundation and FBI.

The WERLDS PIGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGS LIVE IN NYC = La Cosa Nostra = NRA = Red Plague =

EVIL Man

In 2011, 201x, 201

August 06 2012 at 9:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Morris Cantonitis's comment
evd10

Off your medication again Morris?

August 08 2012 at 10:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anibeth45

If a smaller bank closes, you won't know where your money will end up which is why I stayed with a big bank, that I am mostly familiar with, like Wells Fargo. When Security Pacific closed, I had no idea that it was bought by Bank Of America until when I became its costumer. I was not satisfied with bank of America's mismanagement of my checking account and I went to Glendale Federal Bank, until it was taken over by Cal Fed, and then, by Citibank. I closed my account after Glendale Federal Bank was acquired by Cal Fed, to which I am not completely familiar with and then, switched to Wells Fargo Bank, because my parents had an account there. I am very happy with Wells Fargo Bank and will continue to be a dedicated customer to that bank, even though the other bank, my parents consigned me, is more of an investment and financial institution. The other former bank my parents had their trust was Comerica, even though I have never trusted them and their credibility since Merrill Lynch.

August 06 2012 at 2:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rawkstar4179

This is why I use USAA. They have what, 2 branches? And they're in Texas and Virginia. Not exactly driving distance from Florida. I can take care of everything online or on the phone, and they actually talk to you like you're a real person. No charge from them to use another bank's ATM, plus they give me back the fees that other banks charge me. No fee on my checking or savings accounts, *VERY* competitive rates on loans (their new car loan rate is 1.79% right now) ... what's not to love?

August 05 2012 at 1:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
papadon.don

I do absolutely NOTHING!!... I bank online, so who cares??

August 04 2012 at 10:48 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
jdykbpl45

Change banks stupid!

August 04 2012 at 10:52 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply