Bank Transfer Day Recap: Overhyped but Overall Credit Union Win

Posted in Banking , Credit Union • November 10, 2011
Post Bank Transfer Day

Photo: Sasha Kimel via Flickr

The brainchild of Los Angeles, CA art gallery owner Kristen Christian, the central thesis behind Bank Transfer Day isn’t anything new.

For the last couple years, community activists have urged customers to move their money from large corporate banks to small community banks or a  local credit union. Christian, however, taking inspiration from Occupy Wall Street, Guy Fawkes Day and her poor customer service experiences at Bank of America, worked hard to make November 5 the day to remove money from big banks.

With the first Bank Transfer Day behind us, it is now possible to examine its tangible effects.

Customers to Save Over $5 Million by Switching to Credit Union

Bank Transfer Day certainly had the potential to revolutionize American consumer banking. Bill Cheney, CEO of the Credit Union National Association stated that, “If all of the people signed up to participate in Bank Transfer Day on Saturday do so, and remain credit union members over the year that follows, those consumers will save a combined $4.8 million.”

Cheney stated customers would save an additional $300,000 in controversial $5 debit card fees that were once in motion. Combine this with the 650,000 who have already moved their money, and large consumer banks will surely start feeling it in the pocket.

Bank Transfer Day Helps Out Big Banks?

Or will they? David Grant, writing for DC Decoded pointed out potential benefits for big banks.

The financial crisis created a massive glut of deposits without subsequent loans. Thus, many customers actually hurt a bank’s bottom line by keeping accounts with a big bank. This is because banks must pay fees to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, as well as overhead on managing the money.

This actually makes certain customers not profitable for bigger banks. Thus, moving your money from a large bank to a credit union might actually be a win-win for all parties involved. You win in the form of lower fees–and banks’ existing customer base becomes more profitable.

Credit Unions Come Out on Top

Credit unions are also winners in Bank Transfer Day. The Move Your Money movement already brought $4.5 billion in deposits to local credit unions.

California and Texas saw the biggest gains. In Charlotte, NC, Charlotte Metro Federal Credit Union saw 1,400 new checking accounts opened for the month of October, compared to a monthly average of 400.

Many credit unions do not keep weekend hours, but those with weekend hours did see noticeable increases in membership. Some credit unions even held special Saturday hours to accommodate the movement.

Total figures for success of the weekend have not yet hit, but anecdotal evidence suggests that many people did keep their word and transfer money to a small community bank and local credit union.

As with most forms of protest, Bank Transfer Day isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It also comes with some interesting unexpected consequences.

Still, there seems to be a winning scenario for all involved. Banks become more profitable, customers save money on fees and communities benefit from having more money spent locally. Regardless of your feelings about Occupy Wall Street and the 99 Percent, it’s hard to say anything bad about a movement that provides such results.

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We would love to hear your comments and feedback

  • Fredric L. Rice

    “The brainchild of Los Angeles, CA art gallery owner Kristen Christian…”

    That’s wrong. Bank Transfer Day is the culmination of a much larger effort to get Americans to escape the treasonous Wall Street banks which has been on-going for years, an effort called “Move Your Money.” BTD is merely one aspect of the larger effort to punish the traitors and their pet politicians that work for our nation’s enemies.

  • GBR Casey

    Move Your Money may be a grander effort, but the actual BTD is credited to Kristen Christian as the original organizer on the Facebook event page.

    “The organizer, Kristen Christian has said, ‘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. With each person who RSVPs to this event, my heart swells. 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.’”

  • Elizabeth

    Kristen Christian deserves a LOT of credit for coming up with BTD. I, for one, wasn’t even aware that there was a larger “move your money” effort, and I’m quite well-read and up on financial topics. I know I am not alone.
    People do not respond to “fuzzy” things like “move you money.” By designating a certain date for people to transfer their money, Kristen made things happen. It’s human nature to NOT act unless deadlines and such are given (which is why retail store sales events, esp one day sales, work so well). Additionally, there are two more benefits: 1. results become more quantifiable (a credit union can easily calculate how many new accounts they got on a specific day), and 2. people get to feel like they are part of something larger than just themselves.

    In my opinion, if the Occupy Wall Street folks want to make their efforts work or work better (depending upon one’s viewpoint), they need someone like Kristen to make their goals more defined. Currently, they are too nebulous/fuzzy, and non-quantifiable.

  • GBR Casey

    @Elizabeth: I agree–I think Occupy Wall Street has the potential to make big changes, but right now, there’s no clear objective or strategy. In fact, I doubt a lot of the people there really understand what it is they want to achieve beyond “stopping greedy corporations.” If they had a defined purpose/leader, they could really make waves.

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