Bank Transfer Day Drove Consumers from Banks to Credit Unions

Lynn Heider
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Bank Transfer Day Drove Consumers from Banks to Credit Unions

Five Years Later, Credit Unions’ Popularity Continues

Bank Transfer Day was founded by California art gallery owner Kristin Christian, partly in response to an announcement by Bank of America that it would start charging its customers $5-per-month for use of debit cards. Bank of America later changed its mind about that fee, but for some of their customers, it was too late. In just weeks, the Bank Transfer Day online following grew to tens of thousands, consumer frustration with big, Wall St. banks swelled, and customers began looking for alternatives. Christian designated Saturday, November 5, 2011 as a symbolic day in which she encouraged bank customers to follow her to join credit unions. More than forty thousand did, that day alone. *

Credit unions are different.

Credit unions are member-owned, not-for-profit cooperatives. Members pool their financial resources to make loans to other members and to provide other financial services such as business, vehicle and mortgage loans, credit cards, and savings accounts.  With no stockholders to pay, earnings are invested right back into members’ households, in the form of lower interest loans and credit cards, better returns on savings, and dividends.

The average credit union household in the Northwest received $156 in direct financial benefits last year. Consumers with 60-month credit union vehicle loans are currently saving an average of over $140-per-year in interest expense compared to what they would pay at a banking institution in their state. **

Membership growth continues.

The appeal of member-ownership in local, not-for-profit cooperatives with socially responsible DNA continues to drive new members to credit unions.

Since Bank Transfer Day, more than 968,000 members joined Oregon and Washington credit unions, bringing the regional total of members to 5.5 million and growing. Nationally, 104.9 million consumers trust $1.3 trillion dollars in assets to credit unions. They know their money is safe. The National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund ensures member deposits up to $250,000 per individual depositor.

Tell your news audiences how credit unions are improving their members’ financial well-being. Contact a credit union in your market or reach out to us for assistance with your report.

Source: *National Credit Union Administration; **Informa Research Services, Credit Union National Association, National Credit Union Administration


The Northwest Credit Union Association is the not-for-profit trade association representing 154 of Oregon and Washington’s credit unions. Northwest credit unions returned $352 million in direct financial benefits to their 5.2 million members last year. The NWCUA is the voice of the Northwest credit union movement, providing legislative, regulatory and public advocacy in addition to education, compliance, networking support and business solutions to credit unions. For information on how to join a credit union, please visit

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