Big Banks Lose Billions as Bank Transfer Day ApproachesIf money talks, how loudly does $4.5 billion speak? That's the amount added in deposits at the nation's credit unions since Sept. 29, estimates the Credit Union National Association. The organization says at least 650,000 people have opened new accounts, bringing those billions of dollars with them.

That figure doesn't even include the thousands of dollars more brought by Frank Sheldon, 63, who runs a photography studio in Seattle. He closed two accounts at Chase and moved to Boeing Employees Credit Union, now BECU -- open to everyone, not just Boeing staff -- in early September.

Sheldon's bank transfer journey actually started in 2008, when his original financial institution, Washington Mutual, was sold to J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM). After the sale, he saw his credit lines cut, which caused his credit score to dip because it gave him a higher debt-to-credit ratio. Then came the fees. His previously fee-free joint checking account and business account picked up $10 a month and $15 a month fees, respectively.

So starting in April, he began the process to transfer both accounts -- with thousands of dollars in each, he says -- to the credit union.

"Why should we reward these banks with our business?" says Sheldon.

A Response to Resentment

He is clearly not alone. On Saturday, tens of thousands of Americans are planning to march, protest or move their money as part of what is being called Bank Transfer Day, a grassroots idea born from a Facebook page that has gained steam with the help of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.

Claes Bell, a banking reporter with BankRate.com, says the flurry of activism is a response to ongoing resentment over bank bailouts along with new frugality as the economy -- and wages -- continue to sputter.

Are you planning to move your money to a community bank or credit union?
Yes, I am planning on it.2624 (39.1%)
Yes, I have already moved it.2363 (35.2%)
No, I am content with my bank.1728 (25.7%)

At least 200 protests are scheduled for Saturday at various big bank locations around the country, says activist organization MoveOn.org. More than 160,000 people have signaled their intention to pull their money out of Bank of America (BAC), Chase or Citibank (C) on its "Move Your Money" website.

Various Occupy movements are also planning marches in support of the Bank Transfer Day movement. The Internet continues to buzz with anti-big bank sentiment under the #louderthanwords hashtag on Twitter.

"I think the thing that is clear is that people are fed up with being ripped off," says Daniel Mintz, campaign director for MoveOn.org.

A Drop in the Big Bank Bucket

A recent poll by Harris Interactive of 2,463 adults showed that only 29% of Bank of America customers said they were likely to continue using it as their primary bank in the near future; the number dropped to 21% for Chase customers and 22% for Wells Fargo and Wachovia (WFC) customers.

But some of the biggest banks don't seem overly concerned, saying they're still committed to customer service. While $4.5 billion is a significant number for credit unions, it represents a small portion of deposits for the 10 largest banks, each of which has more than $100 billion in assets.

Chase declined to comment. A spokesperson for Citibank said its branches are open on Saturday. Wells Fargo also said it is business as usual on Saturday, with regular staffing and hours.

Bank of America, and several other banks, retreated this week from implementing new fees for debit cards, although analysts say the bank is likely to find other fees to charge that will provide it with equivalent revenue.

By coincidence, the Nov. 5 timing of the protest falls on a day with some political resonance for protest. In England, it's Guy Fawkes Day, when bonfires are burned to remember the eponymous anti-establishment figure who attempted to blow up the House of Lords four centuries ago.

In Seattle, Sheldon says his move to a credit union started long before the current zeitgeist, but he is happy to see more people following his footsteps.

"There is just a different kind of vibe [at the credit union]," he says.

Catherine New can be reached at catherine.new@huffingtonpost.com.


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271 Comments

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John M

Bank of America, the bank of fraud, will cheat you in many other ways. If you use Bank of America, take your money out before it's to late.

November 08 2011 at 9:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pllove49

You sure know people are having it rough.. when they have to quibble and squabble over a few bucks...and I reckon I'm one of them..

November 07 2011 at 1:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ddstan1120

Some of the banks are actually happy to be losing some of their customers that carry small amounts of money in their account, because it costs the banks more to keep them than it is worth.
The banks are in the money making business, just like any other business. Get over it!

November 07 2011 at 11:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jetncat

Aol censoring posts now? What happened to my post?

November 07 2011 at 10:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jetncat

allow the consumer to take back the free markets and control big business. As long as we have govt running interference the consumer will be a the mercy of big business. This was proven this week when Bank of America reduce those new fees. Next stop should be health care. GET GOVT OUT OF THE BUSINESS OF HEALTH CARE NOW. And watch competition lower those rates too!

November 07 2011 at 10:12 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jetncat's comment
donut999

What did the govt have to do with bac rescinding debit card fee?

November 07 2011 at 10:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
krazzicraig

When did cash or writing a check become a problem ? It became a problem when people started spending money they did not have . If they did not have the money in cash or in the bank ,they used credit cards. Many think plastic is money . It is not. Big banks understand convenience. Here is what has changed . Many companies today now use direct deposits for their payrolls . SS is almost completely direct deposits . The rates paid by credit uions is higher . Their loan rates tend to be lower. They issue debit cards that can be used at any store. Their checking accounts are free.They are FDIC insured. The all have on-line banking.The need for a to big to fail bank is over.Just because some bank has a branch on every corner ,only means they are using your money to build a branch on every corner.

November 07 2011 at 9:33 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to krazzicraig's comment
warrenbent

Creidt unions are not FDIC insured (they are NCUA insured).

Nonetheless, more and more Americans are finally rejecting the notions of high taxes and counter-productive regulation by way of transferring their business from heavily regulated and more highly taxes banks to untaxed and lesser regulated credit unions.

November 07 2011 at 10:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
krazzicraig

When did cash or writing a check become a problem ? It became a problem when people started spending money they did not have . If they did not have the money in cash or in the bank ,they used credit cards. Many think plastic is money . It is not. Big banks understand convenience. Here is what has changed . Many companies today now use direct deposits for their payrolls . SS is almost completely direct deposits . The rates paid by credit uions is higher . Their loan rates tend to be lower. They issue debit cards that can be used at any store. Their checking accounts are free.They are FDIC insured. The all have on-line banking.The need for a to big to fail bank is over.Just because some bank has a branch on every corner ,only means they are using your money to build a branch on every corner.

November 07 2011 at 9:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
krazzicraig

When did cash or writing a check become a problem ? It became a problem when people started spending money they did not have . If they did not have the money in cash or in the bank ,they used credit cards. Many think plastic is money . It is not. Big banks understand convenience. Here is what has changed . Many companies today now use direct deposits for their payrolls . SS is almost completely direct deposits . The rates paid by credit uions is higher . Their loan rates tend to be lower. They issue debit cards that can be used at any store. Their checking accounts are free.They are FDIC insured. The all have on-line banking.The need for a to big to fail bank is over.Just because some bank has a branch on every corner ,only means they are using your money to build a branch on every corner.

November 07 2011 at 9:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
donut999

Cry babies. If you do not want to do business with someone, just quietly walk away. There is no need for all this moaning and groaning. If the big banks wanted consumer accounts that carry low balances, they would be courting you vs pushing you away. The banks already have trillions in deposits that they essentially are paying zero to to a 1/2% interest on. If they should run low, (impossible), they can always drop by the fed window and pick some up for a song. They do not want or need the grief, and cost of messing with consumer accounts that typically carry balances, of $500-2,000 (and that is on payday). So go close your account, open a new one at a credit union or a local bank. Could you just do it quietly?

November 07 2011 at 9:07 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
rich1braw

While I do not have or need an ATM card, I understand that the big banks have branches with ATMs all over town. How about the credit union? Where are their ATMs? Will the Credit Union's new customers have to use an independent ATM? What about fees for using an independent ATM? Also what about convenience of banking in different cities or all over the town where you live. I'm a senior citizen with a lot of time on my hands so i can take a ride to a small bank with one or two brnaches. But if you're busy working you want to be able to get to a bank branch quickly. Can you do it with a credit union? How many branches do they have?
One thing my years have taught me. don't make rash decisions without checking out as many facts as you can.

Richard Brawer
www.silklegacy.com

November 07 2011 at 8:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply