I recently changed banks – something I’d resisted for a few years but caved in and refinanced my existing mortgage and financed a new one. It’s the only reason I changed but there’s things to remember as I’ve outlined below.
The photo above is to remind me to keep calm as I create this because it’s not a breeze to change banks and non-fond memories are being served up but this could be a useful checklist for someone else – hopefully not me again.
Firstly, you find a new bank who will give you a really good deal because you’re a new customer and they marry you to their bank by offering a sweet honeymoon deal. It might cost as much as a wedding by the time you pay discharge fees from your existing mortgage and pay fees for the new one. Well, not quite – unless it’s a cheap wedding.
You ring up the old bank to see if they can match the great deal you’re being offered. You say that you’ve been a loyal customer for years and surely they can match it. You really don’t want to change, but you give them the ultimatum. Lower your fees or I’m leaving.
And you sign that discharge form while you write a list of other things you have to do as a consequence of changing banks.
Afterall it’s not just a home loan that you’re moving, it’s a savings/offset account and a credit card and there’s lots of automatic things happening in the background you have to rearrange.
Trap number one. Remember to close all accounts at your old bank otherwise you’ll be surprised by a credit card bill that you thought you’d paid off.
It does help to have a mortgage broker because they know the ins and outs of the system. You could do it yourself but every bit of help you can get doesn’t hurt.
You go through old bank statements to find out what’s being directly debited and find a couple of things you’d forgotten about. Even after this process more things will turn up, like automatic web domain and hosting renewals, and computer virus software renewals.
Remember we’re keeping calm. Carry on. Deep breath.
You’ve been approved for your new mortgages and the ball is firmly on the roll.
You start making phone calls and sending emails to change over bank account details. This involves any government benefits like family tax benefit etc. It’s so joyful dealing with bureaucratic government departments to update your details when a simple phone call to a non-government organisation suffices.
One of the first things you do is organise online banking. Of course it’s completely different to what you’re used to. The terminology is different even though they both pretty much do the same thing.
Trap number two. Check your online banking and paper statments religiously the first few months. If you don’t you might realise that your automatic credit card payments are not working and you spend too much time on the phone trying to sort it out. At least they realise you’ve stuffed up and refund you late payment and interest fees – but only this once! You tell them why you ‘stuffed up’ by giving them some feedback about the terminology on their website.
You contact some people whose banking account details you used to have but don’t anymore because you owe them some money.
You sit back for a while, take some more deep breaths and hope like hell everything’s running smoothly now.