Bank of America has given into the pressure of losing more than just a few unprofitable customers, canceling its planned $5 monthly debit card fee. The damage, not just to Bank of America but to retail banking overall, has already been done. The Credit Union National Association has counted, state by state, a total of 650,000 new customers since September 29, the day Bank of America announced its plan to begin this fee in 2012.
While other banks had tested the debit card fee waters before Bank of America, this bank, the largest in the United States, was at the tipping point of an anti-Wall Street campaign. Reaction was vast, with thousands of dissatisfied customers — some with Bank of America, some with other mainstream banks — rallying around the creation of Bank Transfer Day, on the calendar for this past Saturday.
This was good news for credit unions. Not including any new customers since last Wednesday, credit union membership increased at a record pace in the short time period of just over one month. With the 650,000 new customers, credit unions experienced an influx of $4.5 billion. The survey data come from a wide sample of 5,000 credit unions, 80 percent of which have seen a membership increase during this period. If Bank Transfer Day has been successful, the numbers should be even more impressive when NCUA includes the rest of the week’s figures.
I did not yet move my accounts from my primary brick-and-mortar bank, Wells Fargo. I did, however, research credit unions for myself and discovered one that is somewhat convenient. It isn’t nearly as convenient as the Wells Fargo branch down the street, the TD Bank branch in the other direction, or the Chase Bank within a short walking distance. With most of my banking online, a need for a convenient branch is less of an issue.
Did you move your money to a credit union in the last month? What was your experience?
Published or updated November 7, 2011.