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Credit Unions Successfully Woo 650,000 New Customers

This article was written by in Banking. 13 comments.


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.

Listen to the Consumerism Commentary Podcast interview with Kristen Christian, the founder of Bank Transfer Day.

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. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Laura Kumin

I’ve been using a credit union for years. I’ve used 2 different credit unions – both have been much better than a bank, both in terms of rates and customer service. I had no idea why more people didn’t use credit unions before and hope many turn to them now.

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avatar Greg

How many new customers do credit unions normally get in a month? I assume 650,000 is more than they could have expected without BOA’s debit-card fee, but how much more?

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avatar Melissa

I *love* my credit union. I live in a smallish town, a suburb of Tulsa. Seems the only thriving new businesses in Tulsa, other than a new Sam’s and various fast food restaurants, are banks. It makes me sick how much these big banks make. I just watched “Maxed Out” (free if you have Amazon prime, btw) and it will REALLY open your eyes to how these big banks work. Many of them payroll/fund the high interest payday loan places…I highly recommend watching “Maxed Out” for more information.

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avatar lynn ♦155 (Cent)

Thank you for the reccomendation.

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avatar Melissa

You are welcome! It’s a great movie.

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avatar Cejay ♦1,521 (Half-Dollar)

I already used a Credit Union but when I went by this Saturday I remarked on how busy they were. My teller laughed and told me that Bank of America has assured them of job security. She gave no numbers but she said they were certainly busier this month than last.

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avatar Robert

Researched and opened an account in a Credit Union 6 years ago. Still have an account with one of the Majors, though have moved all funds over to the CU, which is now primary.

You mention convenience of branches. My story: for the last year I have not even lived in the same state where my CU resides, though I can use their extensive co-op system to do banking at other CU’s. I have not even been in one of my CU’s branches for over a year. Everything can be done online, e-mail and over the phone. I refinanced a vehicle loan [it was with a B & M] 2 years ago and everything was handled by phone, e-mail and fax. Just saying.

Oh, I do maintain a presence in the CU’s home territory so I can be a member.

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avatar shellye ♦107 (Cent)

Oh, how I wish you could do a testimonial of your experiences in the co-op system for my credit union members! It’s so hard to get them used to the shared branching idea.

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avatar uscroger

EVeryone talks about transferring to a CU; but, what are the advantages, pros, and cons? Anyone care to dissect it for me?

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avatar Ceecee ♦53 (Newbie)

I am with a small community bank, but if they start doing things like big banks, I will go to a CU in a heartbeat The big guys brought this on themselves.

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avatar Raul

If you want to survive this corruption of banks of america you better think about opening up an account with the credit union now, Cause the goverment bail out the banks and they have to pay that money back some how and who do you think is goin to pay?

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avatar Steve Dupree

When I moved to my current state a decade ago, credit unions were the only places I could find with free checking. I have been happy with my credit union and I’ve never had to face those ridiculous fees.

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avatar qixx ♦1,890 (Half-Dollar)

650,000 new to credit unions. I already had an account at a credit union so making it my primary and closing Wells Fargo does not include me in that number. Plus how many moved to small/local banks or online banks. This number really reflects in my guesstimate 1 million people plus leaving big banks.

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