Over the past five weeks, hundreds of thousands of Americans have joined in the backlash against Wall Street by moving their money out of big banks and into credit unions:
More consumers flocked to credit unions last month than in all of 2010 combined, likely in part due to the controversy surrounding debit card fees.
At least 650,000 customers opened new accounts at credit unions since September 29, the day Bank of America announced it would charge customers a $5 per month fee to use their debit card for purchases starting in 2012, the Credit Union National Association estimates. If that number holds true, it would be more than the 600,000 consumers that joined credit unions in all of 2010.
The number of new accounts is not the whole story. Overall, $4.5 billion was added to credit union savings:
Also during that time, CUNA estimates that credit unions have added $4.5 billion in new savings accounts, likely from the new members and existing members shifting their funds.
Daily Kos diarist Sarge in Seattle was one of the first to report on the recent surge in credit union membership. Two weeks ago, he filed an original report on BECU, formerly known as Boeing Employees Credit Union, experiencing a 280 percent increase in membership in October.
Credit unions may experience another sharp increase in membership tomorrow. Several organizations are working to support "Bank Transfer Day," which is an attempt to have tens of thousands of people close their accounts with for-profit financial institutions and instead open accounts with non-profit community banks and credit unions. Currently, Bank Transfer Day has over 40,000 "likes" on Facebook. Also, Rebuild the Dream has gathered nearly 70,000 member pledges to close accounts at big banks.