Credit Unions Make History on Bank Transfer Day

Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011, was as epic a day in the credit union movement as it was infamous on Wall Street. When industry analysts and historians look at and back on Bank Transfer Day, it will be known as a turning point of awareness and the beginning of a credit union revolution.

That’s a big statement.

Whether or not you believe it, the fact remains that Bank Transfer Day arrived with angst and excitement for most everyone working for credit unions. While no one knew exactly what to expect, like squirrels readying their nests for a storm, credit union people prepared. Branches staffed up and instituted flexible hours to accommodate a potential influx of new members.

For some it was business as usual: no unmanageable influx of members and new account openings were steady. Other credit unions saw record Saturdays.

In Oregon, Rivermark Credit Union signed up 50 new members on Friday and Saturday at its Hawthorne branch, and Northwest Resources Credit Union signed up two-thirds as many people at their downtown branch on Bank Transfer Day as it normally would in a month. Unitus reports a 74-percent increase in the first week of November

In Washington, the nation’s fourth-largest credit union, BECU, signed up 659 people at its 45 neighborhood financial centers.

Saturday was a record day for new members at all of these credit unions. And throughout the Northwest, credit unions were reporting between 20 and 200-percent increases in Saturday activity.

Occupy Seattle Marches to Credit Unions, Rallies
In downtown Seattle on Saturday, Occupy Seattle marched from its former encampment at Westlake Park to two credit unions, where they dropped off people to join. In between chants like, “They got bailed out. We got sold out,” which were aimed at big banks, the crowd lauded the work of the credit unions, at one point thanking Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union (SMCU) for doing business in Seattle.

“Throughout the morning, we had a trickle of people coming in to open accounts that picked up as the afternoon continued,” said SMCU’s Senior Vice President Jill Vicente. “The people participating in the march were happy, friendly and thankful that we were there showing support for their move from banks to credit unions. It was a very exciting experience for all of our staff.”

According to Vicente, SMCU experienced a 213-percent increase over normal new member activity on an average Saturday.

Watch a three-part video of Seattle’s Bank Transfer Day Rally for credit unions: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Bank Transfer Day was also covered by a number of regional media outlets. Here is a round-up of some of the weekend coverage:

“Is ‘Move Your Money Day’ actually working?” (King5)
“Occupy Seattle calls for supporters to break up with their banks” (Q13 Fox)
“Westlake draws crowd for ‘National Bank Transfer Day'” (Komo News)
“‘Occupy Portland’ joins Bank Transfer Day” (KGW)
“Credit unions see a boost in new accounts” (Statesman Journal)
“Big bank defectors trickle into credit unions” (The Columbian)
“In Olympia, marchers protest corporate greed” (The News Tribune)
“Some ‘make statement’ by joining credit union” (The Seattle Times)
“Thoughts on Bank Transfer Day” (The News Tribune)
“Another Strong Day for Occupy Seattle” (The Stranger)
“ONLINE: Occupy Bellingham protesters to craft mission statement” (The Western Front)
“Council Member O’Brien Joins Anti-Big Bank Protest” (PubliCola)
“Spokane Bank Transfer Day” (
“Unoccupy Your Bank?” (The Pacific Northwest Inlander)

More coverage can be found on the NWCUA in the News page.


Questions or Comments? Contact NWCUA Director of Public Relations David Bennett:

Posted in Events.