Making Bank Transfer Day Work for You

Remember, remember, the 5th of November.

So goes an English children's rhyme, which commemorates Guy Fawkes Day. Guy Fawkes was a would-be rebel who plotted unsuccessfully to blow up the English Parliament in the 17th century.

The 5th of November, 2011 may also be a day of revolution, albeit of a more commercial nature. That date has been dubbed "Bank Transfer Day," an occasion for bank customers to show their dissatisfaction with bank policies by transferring their accounts to credit unions. Over 60,000 people have reportedly pledged to make this change. Is it something you should consider?

Choice is power

The popular dissatisfaction with banks has many sources, but it has been galvanized into action by rising bank fees. Free checking accounts are becoming more rare, and a few banks have made high-profile announcements of monthly fees for debit cards.

What alternative do consumers have? The "Bank Transfer Day" movement is touting credit unions, whose non-profit nature makes a striking counterpoint against the perceived greed of banks.

If you are considering dumping your bank, whether out of protest or simple economic self-interest, here are two facts to keep in mind:

  1. There are over 7,000 FDIC-insured banks. These institutions range from small, local organizations to multi-national corporations. With such a broad field, any sweeping assumption about bank policies is bound to be inaccurate.
  2. While credit unions are also plentiful, your eligibility to join a credit union is determined by your location, employment, or organizational affiliations. In other words, opting for a credit union will limit your choices.

The point is, as a consumer you have the right to look for free checking accounts, not to mention the highest interest rates on CDs, savings accounts and money market accounts. But your chances of success increase with the number of choices available to you. Don't limit your choices to credit unions. Consider both banks and credit unions as you shop for the best deal, and your choice will help demonstrate the banking polices you support.

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