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PCSing: Changing your bank/credit union

PCSing: Changing your bank/credit union

Credit Unions like Harborstone build close relationships with their members, making it difficult to leave when you PCS. But with modern technology, customers don't have to change their banks. Photo courtesy Harborstone Credit Union.

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Getting ready to PCS? Dread the idea of changing banks?

You are not alone. According to, in a 2019 survey, found that the average U.S. adult keeps the same primary checking account for 14.3 years. Twenty-one percent said they used their account between 21 and 50 years.

Older respondents are more likely to stay with their bank or credit union, however even adults 24 to 39 have kept a checking account for more than nine years.

For military, who move, that decision can be tougher. 

Anthony Damo, money management coach at Harborstone Credit Union said his military customers will stay with him even when they move, provided they feel that personal connection.

"People love simplicity - and they don't want to change banks," Damo added.

Harborstone is a good example in this discussion because they don't have branches at other military bases. But neither does USAA, and many military members choose them, too.

Damo said his customers can access their money at credit unions across the U.S. as part of a program called Shared Branching. You can keep your account with Harborstone, where fees and interest rates are better than traditional banks, and when you need to walk in and get your cash, whether you are at Fort Bragg or Oahu, simply visit a local credit union for support.

"It's easy to access your funds that way.

Harborstone members can even use a cash machine anywhere 14 times a year at no cost.

These are key services, according to Military OneSource, which recommends judging banks and credit unions according to the following check off list:

  • Does my bank have a lot of locations in the U.S. if I'm reassigned, and overseas if I'm deployed? Can I access my funds anytime, either online or with mobile banking solutions?
  • Are there fees for using out-of-network ATMs?
  • Are there account maintenance fees? Could these fees be waived by setting up an automatic deposit - like my military paycheck - or keeping a minimum balance?
  • How does my bank handle overdrafts when I withdraw more money than I have in the account?
  • Can I easily transfer money to different accounts at the same or different banks?

Of course, when you make a change, it's easy to get your paycheck to follow. You can change the bank account associated with your military pay's direct deposit either online via myPay, or via the paper Direct Deposit Enrollment Form, FMS 2231. Don't get rid of your old until you've received at least one deposit in your new bank account - just to make sure everything transferred smoothly.

As for Damo, he said judge your bank or credit union by the human touch.

"It's about heart," he said. "Your bank should care about you - and be there when you need them."

For more information about Harborstone Credit Union, visit

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