1. Start by joining a credit union! There are many to choose from in the Austin area. Check out our list and map of local credit unions, as well as the NCUA’s Research a Credit Union tool. Look for a credit union that can provide all the financial products you want to replace from your old bank—along with checking and savings accounts, you may want to consider moving your credit card, investment funds, and personal loans as well. (Be prepared to spend an hour or two at your new credit union, setting up a new account can take a while.)
2. When opening your new credit union account, try to deposit enough funds to cover your spending as you transition away from your old bank, but be sure to keep enough in your old bank to cover all your automated withdrawals and pending transactions. Avoid any further use of the cards and checks associated with your old bank.
3. If your employer directly deposits your pay or if you receive other automated deposits, have these deposits transferred to your new credit union.
4. Make a list of any automated payments you have (such as rent, utility bills, or subscriptions) along with any other electronic fund transfers you have set up for investments or other money management purposes.
5. As you begin receiving deposits in your new account, move your automated payments in kind. Take extra care to avoid any accidental overdrafts on either your new credit union or old bank accounts.
6. Continue transferring money and automated payments from your old bank until you’ve moved almost everything to your new credit union. Be sure to keep any minimum allowable balances in your old bank to avoid unwanted fees.
7. Go through a billing cycle or two to make sure everything’s good with all of your automated deposits and payments.
8. Say goodbye to your old bank, and let them know why you’re leaving. When you make your last visit to close your accounts, leave a letter with the branch manager to let them know that you won’t bank on fossil fuels. Consider sending a copy directly to the bank’s CEO as well. Feel free to use our sample breakup letter either as-is or as inspiration for your own words. (Be prepared to spend an hour or two at your old bank, closing an account can take a while.)
9. You’ve done a good thing, but don’t stop here! Record your divestment to help everyone see that Austinites put their money where their mouth is when it comes to climate justice. Share your reasons for divestment and these how-to resources with your family and friends. Last but not least, please join us to continue acting locally in the global climate movement!