Eighteen First Niagara branches closed at 3:00 p.m. Friday, and when they reopen on Monday, they will reopen at Northwest Savings Bank branches.
Northwest customers, for the most part, have received what they need by mail because that transition is currently underway.
If you are a customer of one of those 18 Northwest branches, your First Niagara debit card does not work anymore. If you've received your Northwest card in the mail, now is the time to call and activate it, and it will work for making purchases and even ATM withdrawals at stores and markets.
Depositing checks and other business will have to wait until Monday.
Northwest tells Channel 2 that direct deposits and automatic bill payments will not be interrupted. Instead, customers have until November 9 to make any changes with their new account information.
Channel 2 received a lot of questions today about both Northwest and Key Bank, and both banks worked with 2 On Your Side to provide you the following answers. Those answered by First Niagara were first published in Buffalo Business First and summarized by Erica Brecher.
Colleen Basso: "I received most info past 2 weeks, new debit card.... No pin yet though? And I received 4 stacks of checks.... Which I hope THEY are covering the cost of as I haven't written a check in about 3 years and didn't need them!! When can I expect to be able to get any money from acct Northwest?
- Northwest: When you activate your debit by calling 1-866-985-2273, you’ll be asked to select a new PIN. You can start using your new Northwest card now. Tomorrow, you can start using your Northwest checks. If you’re an Online Banking customer, you can log in beginning Monday, September 12 at 8 a.m. Visit www.northwest.com/online_banking.htm for Online Banking login instructions, user guides and important conversion details.
Clarence Geiger III: What happens to your mortgage?
- Northwest: If your mortgage is coming to Northwest, you should have received at least some of the following: a welcome letter, welcome booklet, letter that maps your old First Niagara account numbers and your new Northwest account numbers and a loan coupon book if you’re a loan coupon book customer. If it’s coming to Northwest, all terms and conditions of your mortgage will stay exactly the same, even though account numbers have changed.
Melissa Lynn Falkowski: [Why] were some sold to Northwest and others to Key Bank?
- Key Bank: For those few customers who opened accounts at multiple First Niagara locations, they were assigned to the branch where they most often conducted their transactions in the past 12 months, so they can continue to bank with a single financial institution. Customers who don’t visit a branch for transactions, using mobile and online banking instead, were assigned to the branch closest to their home address. Again, those whose accounts are converting to Northwest have been receiving information from Northwest since the summer, but any customers with questions can call First Niagara directly at 1-800-421-0004.
Anne Gillick Piorkowski: Is it true that we won't have access to deposit services or that deposited checks will clear over the next 3 days? We have bills to pay and have already been dealing with delayed processing on our paychecks. If we don't have access to our accounts, we are going to get behind on our bills.
- Northwest: Any transactions to and from your First Niagara accounts will automatically post to your Northwest accounts through November 9. This means that any direct deposit—from an employer or government agency—and any automatic payment using your account and routing numbers to a biller will continue without interruption. If you’ve paid bills using a First Niagara check that haven’t posted, they will also post from your new Northwest account.
Elly O'Neill Crouch: Would love to know how they decided what customers went where. Our original accounts were started at a First Niagara (Lockport Savings), that turned into a Key but we will be Northwest customers.
- First Niagara: For part one of this answer, please see the above response to Melissa from Key Bank. For part two, that requires explaining some Department of Justice regulations. When Key Bank acquired First Niagara, the bank first took all the branches. The government said that was an unfair amount of bank branches to own, considering Key Bank already has branches in WNY, and required Key Bank to sell 18 of those branches. Northwest bought those branches, and that would explain why you were first told Key Bank and later told Northwest.
Mike Berlinger: Why are all my accounts moving to Northwest but my Mortgage is not? This really is annoying and aggravating.
- Northwest: Many customer mortgage accounts are converting from First Niagara to Northwest. But, mortgages not being converted are those that have been sold by First Niagara to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac but which First Niagara continues to service. In those cases, First Niagara does not own the asset and therefore could not sell it to Northwest.
Channel 2: When can Key Bank customers expect to start receiving information? Many see their Northwest neighbors receiving materials, and Key Bank customers are concerned that theirs have not come yet.
- Key Bank: This weekend only those 18 branches, and associated customer accounts, are being converted to Northwest. Customers whose accounts are converting to Northwest this weekend have been receiving information on this transition over the past couple of months, including information available at www.northwestsavingsbank.com/welcome. Those with questions can contact Northwest at 1-877-672-5678.
- Key Bank: All other First Niagara customer accounts are converting to KeyBank early next month, and welcome kits went in the mail to all these customers just this week. The welcome kits will have everything an account holder needs to know about October’s conversion, and why First Niagara and KeyBank are better together, better for customers and better for Western New York. For example, Buffalo is now the home of our Northeast Regional Headquarters and our second-largest market outside of Cleveland. More information for First Niagara customers who’ll join KeyBank in October is available at www.meetkeybank.com, and they can also call us at 1-800-421-0004.