Bank Transfer Day: The Start of Something Great

The movement toward credit unions over the last several weeks has been nothing less than phenomenal. For us in the credit union movement, it is confirmation of our long-standing tenant that credit unions are "people helping people."

But it doesn't have to end this Saturday. As Kristen Christian -- the founder of Bank Transfer Day -- said: "November 5th is merely a deadline goal." (Facebook, Oct. 27)

As far as credit unions are concerned, any day is a good day for a consumer to become a credit union member. 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.

Consider this: Consumers who join a credit union can expect to save at least $70 in lower rates, higher return on savings and lower or no fees -- just as current credit union members did in the 12 months between June '10 and June '11.

And that's just on average; consumers who are loyal members of credit unions -- utilizing them extensively -- often receive financial benefits that are much greater than the average.

The best news for consumers, however, is that they truly seem to comprehend how they can benefit from credit union membership. The changes over the last several weeks -- since Sept. 29, when Bank of America announced its $5 debit card fee -- tell the story.

Our calculations at the Credit Union National Assn. (CUNA), based on a quick survey of our member credit unions from all across the nation, indicate that consumers have been moving by the tens of thousands -- and shifting their money by the hundreds of millions -- to credit unions over these past four weeks.

From what our member credit unions are telling us, the reason for the consumer swing is clear: Consumers are upset about bank fees; they've just had enough.

And, consumers have also been intrigued by "Bank Transfer Day," another reason our credit unions are telling us their new members are coming in the door.

These new credit union members have made the right choice, because they can now start saving.

In fact, 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. Combine that with the $5 per month that they WON'T be paying in debit card fees, and you're up to $5.1 million.

But that's just the start. Suppose all of those others who have been invited by their friends to join in "Bank Transfer Day" do, in fact, decide to join credit unions. As of this writing, that's more than 423,000 persons -- who, together, would stand to save $31.7 million in combined credit unions savings and no bank debit card fee.

That's money that goes right into the pockets of consumers -- not into the vaults of banks, or their shareholders' wallets.

However, to everyday working people -- struggling to do their level best in a lackluster economy -- that's real money that may be better spent on their families and their futures. Credit unions are proud to give them that opportunity.

This Saturday will no doubt be an historic day for consumers and credit unions alike. Consumers want to be free of high fees, and credit unions want to help free them.

It's one day for consumers to make a smarter choice. But it doesn't have to end there: Every day is a good day to join a credit union.