Can I still use my debit card if my account is closed?

Banks may close your account without notice for various reasons. If you’ve found yourself in this unfortunate predicament, you may be asking, “Can I still use my debit card if my account is closed?”

Unfortunately, you cannot use a debit card that is linked to a closed account. The funds from your account either do not exist or are temporarily being held by the bank, which means you can’t use them to make a purchase.

Having a debit card account closed can be inconvenient.

Luckily for you, I’ll show you why you can’t use your debit card with a closed account. I’ll even show you why it’s closed, how to access your funds, and get your debit card reinstated.

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Why Can’t I Use My Debit Card with a Closed Account?

Debit cards cannot be used with a closed account. Your debit card is linked to your checking account to support transactions. A closed checking account does not allow funds to be withdrawn, making your debit card useless.

Debit cards are used as instant payment sources for connected checking accounts. Some debit cards may be prepaid, but today we are focusing specifically on debit cards connected to a bank or credit union account.

When your linked account is closed, the funds in that account are no longer available. Even if you had money there before, they are moved elsewhere, and the account ceases to exist.

If you try to swipe your debit card after closing an account, it will be declined. The card machine will likely show the same error message that occurs when someone tries to overdraft their account.

If you try to use your card at an ATM, you will likely receive an error telling you that the account cannot be found or that the card cannot be read. A debit card linked to a closed account is as useless as an expired or broken debit card.

What Happens If a Bank Closes an Account with Money in It?

Call your bank’s customer service number or visit a local branch if your account is closed with money in it. The bank will return your money, excluding any fees you owe.

You may be worried about any funds that you had in your account that were closed by your bank or credit union. If your account still held funds, the institution is legally required to return those funds to you minus any fees you owed them.

Let’s say you had $50 left in your account, but you owed the bank $20 in general fees. The bank would take what they were owed and then return the $30 difference to you.

Your money will likely be returned to you via check in the mail. It may take 5-10 business days to receive it.

Can My Bank Close My Account Without Notice?

Banks and credit unions hold the right to close your account without notice. Common reasons for account closures include inactivity, excessive money transfers, criminal convictions, bounced checks or overdrafts, or working a high risk job. Contact your bank to determine the reason your account was closed without notice.

Normally, a bank would never close your account without notice unless something unusual happened.

Here are a few reasons why your bank may suddenly close your account.

1. Your Account Is Inactive

Every bank has a time limit of inactivity that forces account closure. Usually, this is a couple or a few years of little to no activity. If you haven’t used your account in ages, don’t be surprised if it isn’t there anymore when you decide to check in on it. The same can happen if your account has a zero balance for a long time.

2. Your Account Has Too Many Transfers

Most banks have transfer limits on certain accounts. Above all, savings accounts must adhere to Regulation D, limiting how often you can pull money out of them per month.

If you consistently exceed the transfer limit for a savings account into a checking account, your bank may close one or all of your accounts.

Under certain circumstances, it may also change a savings account into a checking account, but this occurs less frequently.

3. Criminal Conviction

When opening your account, you may have been asked to report your criminal history. If you decided to lie on this report or omitted a past criminal conviction and the bank found out about it, they may close your account.

Banks also reserve the right to close your account after you’ve been convicted of a crime. Closure is more likely if that crime has to do with illegal payment or money laundering.

4. Too Many Bounced Checks or Overdrafts

If you’ve been a less-than-pleasant customer with too many bounced checks or overdrafts to count, you could face having your account closed. Most banks will wait until you have enough funds back into the account to pay the fees you owe them but don’t be fooled – as soon as they get their cut, they may cut you off from the account.

This won’t happen if you’ve only overdrawn here and there, but beware if you’re a serial check-bouncer or over-drafter.

5. Your Job Is Too High-Risk

This doesn’t happen often, but if your business is something deemed high-risk, the banking institution has the right to deny you service and close your account. Examples of high-risk businesses include arms dealing, (legal) drug sales, or gambling-related enterprises.

How Can I Reinstate My Debit Card and Account?

Unfortunately, you cannot reinstate a closed bank account. However, it’s important to confirm that your account is actually canceled and not just frozen. Banks are much more likely to freeze an account while investigating than close it out of the blue.

If you realize that your debit card doesn’t work and that your account is inaccessible, your first course of action is to call or visit your bank. Be sure to check your email and mail to see if they have sent you any notices recently.

If the bank confirms that they have closed your account, ask them about the next steps and how you will receive your funds if there are any left. Keep notes on your conversations with bank representatives and consider using ChexSystems to get more information on why your account was closed.

Next, halt all direct deposits, instant bill-pays, and transfers that you had scheduled to or from that account.

You will need to open a new bank account with a new debit card. Decide whether you will continue with your bank or open an account at a new institution. Properly dispose of your old debit card while waiting for your new one.

Summary: Using a debit card with a closed account

Bank accounts can be closed unexpectedly for a variety of reasons. No matter why it happens, your debit card will no longer work once the account is closed. If you want to continue using a debit card, you’ll need to open a new account.

Common reasons for account closures include inactivity, excessive money transfers, criminal convictions, bounced checks or overdrafts, or working a high risk job

As frustrating as it may be, take the time to learn why your account was closed so that you can avoid this from happening again in the future.


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John is the founder of TightFist Finance and an expert in the field of personal finance. John has studied personal finance for over 10 years and has used his knowledge to pay down debt, grow his investment portfolio, and launch a financial based business. He is committed to sharing content related to personal finance based on his experience in his career, investing, and path towards reaching financial independence.