updated 11/03/11 08:30 AM
Consumers Move Their Money Before ‘Bank Transfer Day’
(The initial version of this story published on Nov. 3 has been updated to reflect more accurate data released since then by the Credit Union National Association, along with survey results data compiled by the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues): More than 440,000 consumers across the nation joined credit unions between Sept. 29-Oct. 29 leading up to "Bank Transfer Day" on Nov. 5, according to CUNA. Additionally, a Leagues-member survey shows an estimated 160,408 new members joined California credit unions between Oct. 1 and mid-November.
One of several advertisements across the nation created for the "Bank Transfer Day" promotion movement.
What's more: deposits at California credit unions increased about $317 million during that period.
Nationwide, credit union membership increased by 227,000 in September and 214,000 in October, CUNA said, while also noting it is likely about 400,000 new checking accounts were opened in October.
CUNA based its data on the response to a nationwide survey of credit unions. The new deposits are likely from new members and existing members shifting funds, CUNA said. "Bank Transfer Day" started as a backlash against Bank of America's now-rescinded $5 monthly debit card fee.
The survey results also show that more than four in every five credit unions experiencing member growth since Sept. 29 attributed the growth to consumer reaction to new fees imposed by banks, or a combination of consumer reactions to the new bank fees plus the social media-inspired “Bank Transfer Day,” Nov. 5.
“Bank Transfer Day” urges consumers to transfer their accounts from banks to credit unions by Saturday, Nov. 5.
“These results indicate that consumers are clearly making a smarter choice by moving to credit unions where, on average, they will save about $70 a year in fewer or no fees, lower rates on loans and higher return on savings.” said Bill Cheney, president and CEO of CUNA.
He added that studies have shown people living paycheck to paycheck save even more at a credit union than the average financial institution customer, as they use more credit union services.
Cheney said the growth is particularly noticeable at larger credit unions (those with $100 million or more in assets, which account for about 20 percent of all credit unions – but count about 80 percent of all credit union members). The CUNA survey shows that more than 70 percent of these credit unions reported they have seen growth in memberships and deposits since Sept. 29.
Cheney noted that many credit unions across the nation –whether they are realizing new members or not –are making special efforts to tap the surging interest in credit unions.
“They are conducting advertising campaigns (by themselves or cooperatively with other credit unions), sending ‘switch kits’ to existing members to share with family members or other prospective members, beefing up web sites, extending hours and staffing for this Saturday (Nov. 5), performing email blasts to members, maximizing social media campaigns, putting up banners in lobbies (and on their buildings), offering bonuses to members who bring in new members (and giving bonuses to new members as well),” Cheney said.
“They are doing whatever their resources will allow them to do to help serve this consumer surge in interest in credit unions.”
Cheney also noted that searches for credit unions on the website “aSmarterChoice.org” – which includes a search engine to help consumers find a credit union they are eligible to join – continues to surge, with more than 56,000 visitors in October.
“Any day is a good day for a consumer to become a credit union member,” Cheney said. “Saturday, Nov. 5, is one good day to join, and we certainly encourage consumers to make the change. Because when a consumer joins a credit union, he or she takes the first step for themselves, and their families, in moving toward financial freedom.”
    © 2014 California Credit Union League