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A thrilled Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has reported that a stunning 650,000 Americans have joined credit unions since September 29, a date that not coincidentally coincided with the since-rescinded Bank of America five-dollar monthly debit-fee announcement. By comparison, only 600,000 new members signed up for credit unions in all of 2010. CUNA also estimates that credit unions have added a whopping $4.5 billion in new savings accounts, between new members and existing members shifting funds.
In other words, there's something happening here, and what it is is exactly clear. The Occupy Wall Street movement, eagerly embraced by the media, has increased focus on sentiment that was obvious even pre-Occupation. And Saturday's Bank Transfer Day, a call by the 99 Percenters for Americans to migrate their moolah from big banks to credit unions and community banks, will undoubtedly spur even more bank customers to make a statement.
And, according to CUNY President Bill Cheney, it's not just a way to express your dissatisfaction with greedy lending institutions, it's also an opportunity to save a little coin. He said:
"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."
Bank of America tried to gouge customers in anticipation of revenue losses as a result of the Durbin Amendment, which limited big banks' cut on their customers' debit-card purchases. Prior to October 1, big banks were collecting forty-four cents on the average thirty-eight-dollar purchase. Now, as a result of new Federal Reserve rules, that number is down to about twenty-four cents.
Bank of America claims the new rules could cost them upwards of $2 billion a year. And in total, big banks are expected to hemorrhage $6 billion to $8 billion in annual fees. But, clearly, there won't be many tears shed for these losses. As a certain septuagenarian folk singer could tell you, the times are definitely a-changin'.