Complete guide to cancel a bank account

Our needs change, and the banking system is constantly evolving. An account that was perfect for you a few years ago may have become expensive and outdated and you may be thinking about switching. Or you may no longer need it. In either case, you may want to close it, so you don't have to pay its fees.

Below, you will see how to cancel a bank account step by step, how much it costs to do so and how long it takes the bank to process your request. Some frequently asked questions are also answered: whether it is possible to close an account from another branch or online, how to close the account of a deceased relative and what is the procedure if the account has several account holders.

Wise is also presented. It is an alternative to traditional banks that offers a multi-currency account with no opening or maintenance fees.

How to cancel a bank account step by step

Most often, you will have to go to your bank in person to cancel your bank account. Once there:
  • Explain at the counter that you want to cancel an account.
  • Identify yourself with your ID card
  • Sign the cancellation request document
  • Pay overdue fees and surcharges, if applicable.
  • Ask for a voucher showing the closing date
Is it possible to cancel a bank account online?

There are more and more banks that allow you to cancel a bank account online. Although the most traditional ones still do not give you this option. To quickly find out if you have this possibility, open your bank's app or access the online portal. Then:
  1. Go to "Settings", "Profile", "Accounts" or similar (varies from bank to bank).
  2. Locate a button with the text "Close account".
  3. Click it and confirm your desire to unsubscribe.
In some cases, this information is not available on the app or website, but you can request to unsubscribe by sending an email to the customer service team.

Can a bank account be closed at any branch?

As with online closing, the possibility of canceling an account at another branch depends on each entity. Those that do not allow it, usually give you the option of transferring your account to another branch. In any case, to initiate this procedure you will have to go to your current branch in person.

How to cancel a bank account remotely?

If you cannot go to the branch in question for whatever reason (illness, you are living in another city, you are abroad...), you can send an account cancellation request by registered mail or burofax.

Keep in mind that this is a totally valid method from a legal point of view. But some banks may be reluctant to accept it.

What to do before canceling your account

Before going to the bank to sign the cancellation document, it is advisable to:
  • Check to see if your account has a lock-in period.
  • Transfer to another account the bills and subscriptions that you have paid by direct debit.
  • Withdraw the funds you have left in the account.
  • Notify your payers that you will no longer use this account.
  • Change the account in which you receive your salary or the yields of any investment product you have contracted.
  • Unlink the account and its associated cards from the digital payment platforms you usually use.
Do you charge to cancel a bank account?

Most banks do not charge you anything for closing a bank account. Although to be sure, it is advisable to contact your bank and ask them. However, there are three issues that may require you to shell out some money¹.

The first is length-of-service penalties. These are common with savings accounts and insurance. When you sign up for them, you agree to keep them open for a certain period of time. If you decide to close them early, you will have to pay a penalty.

The second is outstanding fees. If your bank has not yet charged you any of the fees associated with your services, or you are late in paying them, you will have to pay them in order to be allowed to close your account.

The third is negative balances. If your account has been inactive for some time and without funds, it is likely to be in the "red" due to the accumulation of unpaid fees and penalties for being in the negative. As in the previous case, you will have to regularize your situation before closing your account.

How long does it take to close a current account?

According to the Bank of Spain regulations, you can request the closure of a bank account at any time and without prior notice. Your bank must close your account within 24 hours¹ of your request.

Wise: the multi-currency online account with no maintenance fees

Wise offers you a free account that you open online and manage from your smartphone or computer. There are no opening, maintenance or inactivity fees. You can use it to store money in euros and other currencies (more than 50 in total).

This account has account data from the eurozone, but also from the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Turkey, Romania and Hungary. With them you can direct debit payments in their respective currencies and receive international transfers locally. In addition, you will have a debit card to spend the money you have saved.

If you make any currency exchange, either to make a transfer or to pay or withdraw cash abroad, Wise applies the real exchange rates, without any hidden surcharge. It only charges you a low and transparent service fee.

What happens if an inactive account is not closed?

Your bank will not close your account due to inactivity or because the balance is zero or in the red². Instead, it will continue to charge you its periodic fees, which will accumulate in the form of debt. There may also be penalties for keeping your balance in the negative.

If 20 years go by without any transactions on the account, it is considered legally abandoned³. If there is money in the account, it will become the property of the State.

Requirements for closing a bank account due to death

The only people who can close a deceased person's account are his or her legal heirs. If there are several of you, it is necessary that you all go to the office where your relative had the account:

Explain the situation and present the following documents:

1. Valid ID of all the heirs
  • Death certificate
  • Copy of the will or declaration of heirs
  • Proof of payment of Inheritance Tax
  • Withdraw the funds from the account or transfer them to another account.
2. Terminate your family member as account holder and sign the closing request yourself. If there are several heirs, you must sign all of them

3. Closing accounts with several account holders

If you have a joint account with your partner, another relative or someone you do business with, it is necessary that you all go to the bank, identify yourselves with your ID or passport and sign the cancellation document.

The only exception are the accounts that have the qualification of "indistinct ownership". In this case it is sufficient that one of you takes care of the procedure.