I was down at SF Fire Credit Union yesterday to make a deposit, and it was heartening to see so many people there signing up for new accounts.
Here’s a great firstperson account of moving from Wells Fargo to SF Fire Credit Union, by Josh Harkinson for Mother Jones:
Try as I may, I can’t find any other reason not to sign up. Free online bill pay: check. Fee-free overdraft protection linked to a credit card: check. Free online check deposits: check. Free banking on smart phones: check. Free change-sorting machine: check. The Fire Credit Union will even give you a personalized debit card. The khaki-clad employee pulls out his own card, which bears a picture of his golden retriever . . .
Harkinson visits Wells Fargo the next morning:
When I challenge a Wells Fargo banker to give me one good reason not to move my money over to a credit union, he really can’t.
A stone-faced teller directs me to a Personal Banker who is sitting at his desk, sipping a Starbucks Grande. I’ll call him Andy because I don’t want to get him fired. He scans my debit card and tells me that I’m lucky to have an account originally opened in Texas with no minimum balance requirement. California Wells Fargo accounts don’t offer that. “You’re actually in good shape here.”
I mention my recent trip to New York, where each time I withdrew cash, I was not only charged by the machine, but hit with a $5 fee from Wells Fargo, which doesn’t have any ATMs there. “The credit union will refund me all fees for that,” I tell him.
“Even the ones that the other bank charges you?” Andy asks.
“Unfortunately that’s something we can’t really compete—we don’t have an account that offers that,” he says apologetically. “If you are finding yourself in that situation a lot, I can see how that would be better for you.”
Also, check out MoJo’s handy FAQ: How Do I Move My Money Out of a Big Bank?
UPDATE: Bay Citizen, “Bay Area Customers Flood Credit Unions on ‘Bank Transfer Day’“
“California credit unions have drawn more than half a billion dollars in new deposits in six weeks”
UPDATE 2: New Wells Fargo bank to cater to 1%
One day after Bank Transfer Day, it was reported that Wells Fargo is opening an exclusive new bank targeting households with more than $50 million.
Note that while the data on National Bank Transfer Day are not yet in, the Credit Union Association of America did report on Nov. 3 that in the period leading up to it, “approximately 650,000 people had joined credit unions since Sept. 29 (the day Bank of America announced its reviled and since-rescinded $5 per month debit card fee) and that they had brought about $4.5 billion in deposits with them.”
“To put those numbers in perspective, more people joined credit unions in October than had done so in the entirety of 2010.”
UPDATE 3: New York Times
“Banks Quietly Ramping Up Costs to Consumers,” Nov. 13, 2011
Even as Bank of America and other major lenders back away from charging customers to use their debit cards, many banks have been quietly imposing other new fees.