Backlash against fee gouging from banks led to an online campaign for “Bank Transfer Day,” when participants pledged to close accounts at big banks and open accounts at credit unions and community banks. Thousands of people made the switch.
Nearly 700,000 had already left previous bank
Consumer outrage over fee gouging at the nation’s various large retail banks has hit a fever pitch. An online campaign called “Bank Transfer Day” began not long after Bank of America announced a monthly $5 fee for customers who hold a Bank of America debit card. The campaign, started at the end of September, urged anyone and everyone to switch to a credit union or community bank on Nov. 5.
Between Sept. 29 and Nov. 5, according to the New York Times, the Credit Union National Association reported that 650,000 people had joined credit unions in the CUNA and had added $4.5 billion in assets. Credit unions all across the nation were reporting huge increases in membership. In all of 2010, according to CNN, credit unions added 600,000 new members.
Huge surge over weekend
The National Association of Federal Credit Unions reported a 54 percent increase in new member applications over the weekend of Nov. 4 to 6. Other credit union associations are still collating data, but individual unions are reporting big increases from the weekend.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Boeing Employees Credit Union in Seattle, Wash., broke its single-day record of new memberships by signing up 659 new members on Saturday.
Digital Federal Credit Union, according to CNN, signed up 133 new members on Saturday. Digital Federal is the largest CU in New England and typically signs up only 85 new members on Saturdays.
The Missouri Credit Union Association, according to the Maryland Heights Patch, reported opening 7,100 new accounts across the 131 credit unions that belong to the MCUA in the past six weeks, including Bank Transfer Day. The new customers added more than $49 million in deposits.
According to NorthJersey.com, the website for the Hackensack Record and several other newspapers in New Jersey, the North Jersey Federal Credit Union reported 48 news accounts on Saturday. Five is typical.
Pros and cons to credit unions
According to ABC, credit union members are less likely to be charged maintenance fees. A Moebs Services survey found almost 80 percent of credit unions offer free checking without requiring a minimum balance, compared to 64 percent of banks. Credit unions also will usually have lower available interest rates on loans and credit cards.
However, only 500 credit unions in the nation have more than one branch. Furthermore, credit unions have far fewer ATMs than the large banks do.