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I recently moved out of state and have all my money in the bank where I used to live.

I've opened up an account at a credit union here, and want to transfer my money from my first bank to this one. Unfortunately, I can't simply write a personal check since my money is in my savings.

As far as wiring or having the bank send a check themselves, they are highly unhelpful as they want a written request + ID + change-of-address proof mailed or faxed to them before they will do anything.

My idea was to simply take out my money via ATM, as much as I can per day (which is $300 according to the ATM I just went to today). My concern is if this would be considered suspicious activity or something and if the bank would have a problem with this. It would be much faster and more convenient.

Does this method have any drawbacks or is it illegal or something? I don't know too much about banks and ATM usage.

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    I hope you are planning on doing this at an ATM that doesn't charge a fee for each transaction! – JohnFx Aug 15 '10 at 15:50
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To answer your question, specific to ATM usage:

It is your money. You can do with it as you wish, as long what you are doing with it is legal. There is nothing illegal about taking money out of an ATM every day of the week.

That said, there are some issues. One you already mention being the typical daily limit of $300. Another, is that these days most ATMs charge you for the transaction and many banks will also charge you for the transaction. (That assumes that you are not using an ATM owned by your bank.) These fees add up quite quickly. Using the very typical $1.50/transaction (or $3/transaction total), you could make 8 transactions before the typical $25 wiring fee is more appropriate. You should also not ignore the "cost" of the inconvenience of having to make so many transactions. There is also the potential, however remote, that your bank may see it as suspicious activity and lead to the headaches you are trying to avoid by not wiring the money.

If you don't have a checking account with that bank into which you could just transfer the money, online, by phone or whatever, I would simply jump through the required hoops. Keep in mind that these hurdles are intended to protect your money.

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    A word of warning on this. In the US savings accounts are Regulation D, which has the restriction of at most 6 withdrawals per month. IIRC the only penalty for exceeding it is the bank has to close the account, but I wouldn't be surprised if instead they just restrict further withdrawals. – Jeremy M Dec 16 '10 at 6:37
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If your old bank has online billpay, you might be able to either use that to send a check to yourself, or do an ACH transfer directly into your new account.

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Unfortunately, I can't simply write a check.

Why not?

Getting a certified check or a money draft from your original bank would be the safest way of transferring money. You can also get it wired directly -- talk to your new bank and see if they can get something set up for you.

  • I should say I can't write a personal check. – Corey Aug 14 '10 at 19:39
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    @Corey Do you no longer have (or never had) a checking account with that bank? – George Marian Aug 15 '10 at 0:59
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You can use an intermediary online bank account. For example, ING Direct has the ability to link to other real banks. You can link to both your old and new banks.

Once linked, transfer the money from old bank to ING. Then transfer from ING to new bank.

There are delays, and you can't transfer directly from bank-to-bank, but this should work, and should be free.

The same concept should apply for something like PayPal or another online financial service.

  • I routinely use PayPal for interbank transfer. Very convenient, any time of day, no need to be properly clothed. There's a time delay of maybe 3 days per transfer, but normally I'm in no hurry. – DarenW Nov 29 '10 at 22:15
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As long as your bank does not have any limits on the number of transactions per month you should be fine. The danger would be theft while you had the money before depositing into the new account. I would expect that your new credit union could do a wire transfer for you. It might cost you a few dollars but it would be safer and probably faster.

  • Theft should not be a danger because the ATM I'm using is in a public area a 30 second walk to the credit union. – Corey Aug 14 '10 at 19:44
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Why not yet phone up the old bank, or log onto the internet banking and do a transfer to the new account. You may first need to transfer from the saving account to a current account with the same bank. (I have never had a problem doing this, but I do live in the UK)

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When I moved banks. I had my old bank cut a cashier's check. It isn't a check you write. They write it and give it to you. I then took the cashier's check to my new bank to deposit it.

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