WASHINGTON — Tens of thousands of consumers across the country joined credit unions on “Bank Transfer Day,” Nov. 5, depositing millions in new savings and giving credit unions a brisk day of lending as well, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), the nation’s largest credit union advocacy group, reported today.
CUNA estimates that, based on the results of its survey, more than 40,000 consumers joined credit unions on Nov. 5, “Bank Transfer Day.” About $80 million was recorded in new savings. Estimates for all credit unions were developed based on responses to a survey sent to about 1,100 credit unions nationwide. The survey indicates that about four in every five of larger credit unions signed up new members on Nov. 5 – some signing up hundreds on that day. Many respondents indicated that they kept branches open that were typically closed on Saturdays, and/or that they extended Saturday office hours generally.
Further, more than 60 percent of the credit unions reporting signing up new members on Nov. 5 also said they had made new loans on that day. CUNA estimates that, overall, those credit unions made about $90 million in new loans on “Bank Transfer Day,” to both new and existing members as not-for-profit cooperatives, credit unions typically offer better rates and lower fees compared to other financial institutions. CUNA estimates that consumers save annually $6.3 billion each year just by doing business with a credit union, an average of just under $70 per member. “Any day is a good day to join a credit union, and consumers are welcome to explore their options with credit unions today and into the future,” said CUNA President and CEOBill Cheney. Cheney said the survey response indicates momentum that credit unions realized in the weeks leading up to “Bank Transfer Day” continued right into Nov. 5 itself, with a specific spike in membership on that day.
“Since Sept. 29 – the day Bank of America announced its now-rescinded monthly $5 debit card fee – average estimated membership increases nationally were around 20,000 new members each day,” Cheney said. “On Saturday, consumers doubled the pace. It’s clear that consumers kept up their interest in credit unions.” Cheney also noted that many credit unions reported an increase in accounts and members in the week leading up to Nov. 5, as well as throughout the month of October. (CUNA reported last week that, based on the results of an earlier survey, it estimates that 650,000 consumers joined credit unions between Sept. 29 and the first week of November. Click here for more on the earlier survey.)
“Consumers should be given credit for being smart about what to do with their money,” Cheney said. “Many obviously did not wait for a specific day, but took the time to make the change to a credit union in a deliberate manner. Consumers made a smarter choice.” For example, the CUNA survey indicates that not all credit unions realized overwhelming activity on Nov. 5. “The activity volume was typical,” wrote one respondent from Ohio. “We did not see any real boost from Bank Transfer Day given that none of the large banks that were initially planning to introduce debit card fees have a presence in our market.”
But many others reported a steady stream of new members. “We opened 60 percent more accounts than we normally do in a good week,” wrote one respondent from Georgia. “We took 6 mortgage loan and 4 auto loan applications from the new members,” wrote another credit union commenter from Illinois about activity on Saturday.
Cheney said the additional lending credit unions realized on Saturday was an especially encouraging sign, for credit unions and consumers. “This nation needs more economic activity to get back on its feet; credit unions are ready and willing to help gets things moving. Perhaps credit unions and their new members got things started on Nov. 5.” Cheney added that consumers can find a credit union to join – and learn more about credit unions – at aSmarterChoice.org.
With its network of affiliated state credit union leagues, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) serves about 90 percent of America’s 7,400 state and federally chartered credit unions, which are owned by nearly 92 million consumer members. Credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives providing affordable financial services to people from all walks of life. For more information about CUNA, visit www.cuna.org. For more information about credit unions, visit www.aSmarterChoice.org and follow @asmarterchoice on Twitter.