Bank Transfer Day: The Dust Settles


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The past month has been very good for credit unions, and not so good for big banks.

That much we know. The onslaught of new checking account fees at big banks reached its apex – or rather, its nadir – with Bank of America’s (Stock Quote: BAC) proposed $5 monthly debit card fee. The fee was ultimately called off, but not before bubbling rage at the banks coalesced into the Bank Transfer Day movement, which urged banking customers to close their accounts and put their money in credit unions.

The official Bank Transfer Day took place Saturday. At this point it’s too soon to tell exactly how many people closed their accounts with big banks and opened ones at credit unions over the weekend, as the Credit Union National Association says it’s still crunching the numbers. It’s worth noting that consumers planning to close their accounts this weekend should have already joined a credit union in advance of the big day to ensure a smooth transition, so perhaps the October numbers are just as telling. And the story those numbers tell is indeed a good one for the credit unions: 80% of credit unions saw memberships increase in October.

When it comes to Bank Transfer Day itself, though, we’re mainly left to rely on anecdotal reports for the time being. According to CUNA, the Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union opened 153 accounts Saturday, a 50% spike over normal traffic. And the Redwood Credit Union outside San Francisco reported that its parking lot was packed with cars Saturday as 153 people opened accounts.

Still, many would-be customers expressed disappointment (including on MainStreet’s Facebook page) that they were unable to make the switch on Saturday on account of their bank or credit union being closed. In a thread on the official Bank Transfer Day page, many fans said they had already made the transfer in advance of the official day, while others who found their local banks and credit unions shuttered Saturday said they planned to make their own transfer this week.

“[Bank of America] informed me today that I would have to talk to a banker to close an account, and unfortunately the lobby isn't open on Saturdays or any hours I'm not at work,” posted one fan, Sharol Cutrell, on the official page on Saturday. “I'll take the time off if necessary.”

What this suggests to us is that even when the weekend numbers come out, it won’t be the end of the story, as many people will be making their account closures official in the days and weeks to come. Stay tuned for our updates.

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