How to stop automatic payments from a checking account

Young woman sitting on her sofa with her dog, looking at her automatic payments on her mobile phoneImage: Young woman sitting on her sofa with her dog, looking at her automatic payments on her mobile phone

In a Nutshell

You have a right to stop automatic payments from your account, even if you previously allowed them. To cancel these payments, you’ll need to talk to your bank as well as the company or service provider that’s receiving the payment.
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Automatic payments can be a convenient way to make sure your bills get paid on time. But you may decide to stop your automatic debits for a number of reasons, including cancelling a subscription or wanting to pay a bill another way.

You can set up automatic payments from your bank account to pay recurring bills like utilities, insurance, memberships or subscriptions. Or you may also be able to set up automatic debits from your account directly with the company you need to pay. And if you want to cancel or pause these automatic payments at any time, you have the right do so.

What is an automatic payment from a checking account?

You can use automatic payments to pay recurring bills like your credit card bills, gym membership, utilities, subscriptions, or even loans for your car or home. These automatic deductions can be a convenient way to stay on top of your payments. And some banks may offer perks like lower interest rates on loans when you set up automatic monthly payments.

With automatic payments, you essentially give your permission for a merchant to deduct the money directly out of your bank account.

How to stop automatic payments from your checking account

Federal law offers some protections for automatic debit payments that are recurring. At any time, you’re legally allowed to stop a company from taking automatic withdrawals.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways you can cancel automatic payments from your account.

Contact the company you’re paying

Call or write the company’s billing department and tell them you no longer allow it to take automatic payments out of your account. By doing this you’re revoking authorization.

Contact your bank or credit union

In addition to contacting the company you’re paying directly, you can also call or write your bank. Let it know you have revoked authorization for the company to take automatic payments from your accounts. Depending on the bank, you may have to fill out an online form or submit a letter in person.

Issue a stop payment order

You can give your bank a stop payment order even if you haven’t revoked your authorization with the company you’re paying. A stop payment order tells your bank to stop taking payments from your account.

To issue a stop payment order for the next scheduled payment, contact your bank at least three business days before the payment is due to come out of your account. If you want to stop all future payments, your bank may ask for your request in writing. If this is the case, make sure to check with your bank on timing. Generally banks request a letter within about two weeks from your initial request.

Take note: Stop payment orders may only be valid for short time — typically about six months. And some banks may also charge a fee for issuing a stop payment order.

Keep an eye on your account

Even after you submit your request to cancel your automatic bill payment, it’s important to monitor your accounts. If you see any payment activity that you didn’t authorize, or a debit that was made after you revoked authorization, be sure to tell your financial institution right away.

Federal law gives you the right to get your money back, but you have to let your bank know as soon as you catch the mistake.

Submit a complaint if you’re having trouble

If your bank isn’t cooperating or you’re having any other issues getting your bank to stop an automatic payment, you can contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau online to file a complaint. You can also call the CFPB at 855-411-CFPB (2372).

What’s next?

If an unexpected payment gets deducted from your account, it could cause issues. For example, if you don’t have enough funds to cover the amount, you could be on the hook for overdraft fees.

You should also remember that stopping your automatic payment doesn’t necessarily end your relationship with the merchant or lender that you were paying. If you still owe money, you may need to find an alternate payment method to pay by your due date and avoid missing a payment. Missing your payment date could potentially affect your credit.

About the author: Sarah Sidlow is a freelance writer and editor based near Detroit. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Georgetown University. Sarah’s work has appeared in Luxembourg’s national newspaper, Washington City Paper… Read more.