As the social media-sparked Bank Transfer Day approaches, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) reports that over 650,000 people have joined credit unions in the last four weeks. In Colorado, the group reports 14,000 new accounts and $100 million in new deposits.
Credit unions nationally have added $4.5 billion in new accounts since the end of September, CUNA says, reporting that four out of every five credit unions affiliated with the group report that the increase is due to attempts by big banks to raise fees on customers or Bank Transfer Day, a movement birthed by social media that will take place tomorrow.
Bank Transfer Day organizer Kristen Christian explained the logic behind the movement on the group’s Facebook page.
“I started this because I felt like many of you do. I was tired—tired of the fee increases, tired of not being able to access my money when I need to, tired of them using what little money I have to oppress my brothers & sisters. So I stood up. I’ve been shocked at how many people have stood up alongside me.” Christian wrote. “Me closing my account all on my lonesome wouldn’t have made a difference to these fat cats. But each of you standing up with me…they can’t drown out the noise we’ll make.”
Big banks like Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank have also taken flak for attempting to impose additions fees on customers who use debt cards, although many of the banks have withdrawn their plans due to public outcry.
Credit unions are member-owned and non-profit; they typically have fewer fees than corporate banks. Credit unions across the country, including some in Minnesota, have been offering special promotions and extending hours in preparation for Bank Transfer Day, CUNA said. Minnesota’s Affinity Plus launched the aggressive “ditch your bank” campaign in early October,
“Our struggling economy is not the disease, it’s the symptom,” according to Affinity Plus’ campaign. ”There is mounting evidence to prove that big banks with their profit-at-all-costs agenda are actually making our collective disease worse by systematically making choices that undermine the efforts of regulators and ordinary people like us to make changes and get back to a state of health.”
Occupy Wall Street has also helped cement the focus on banks. In Minnesota, Occupy Wall Street has targeted big banks for a series of demonstrations focused largely on the banks’ role in the foreclosure crisis.
“We’re focused more on the needs of our clients and less on the bottom line,” said Joy Audet, director of corporate communications for the credit union association in Colorado.
Scot Kersgaard contributed to this article.