Georgians are leaving banks, moving to credit unions

ATLANTA – In response to a spate of newly proposed – and now mostly rescinded – fees at banks, more than 14,500 Georgians have switched from a bank to a credit union since Sept. 29, according to newly released data.

The new credit union members are estimated to have greatly contributed to $101 million in new deposits at the state’s credit unions over the past five weeks, according to the numbers from the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

Following a nationwide survey of 5,000 credit unions, CUNA estimates that more than 650,000 consumers have joined credit unions since Sept. 29, the day Bank of America unveiled its now-rescinded $5 monthly debit card fee. Also during that time, CUNA estimates that credit unions nationwide have added $4.5 billion in new savings accounts, likely from a combination of new members and existing members shifting their funds – a trend also seen in Georgia.

“The member-oriented focus of credit unions makes them unique when compared to other financial providers,” said Mike Mercer, president and CEO of Georgia Credit Union Affiliates. “That’s at least part of the reason why consumers are shifting to the lower costs, high value and greater convenience offered by their local credit unions.”

The survey results also show that more than four in five credit unions nationwide are experiencing member growth since Sept. 29, which can be attributed to consumer reaction to new fees imposed by banks or a combination of consumer reaction and the social media-inspired “Bank Transfer Day,” scheduled for Saturday. For “Bank Transfer Day” tomorrow, consumers are urged to transfer their accounts from banks to credit unions.

Through lower loan rates, higher interest rates on savings accounts and fewer and lower fees on accounts, Georgia credit unions provided more than $114.6 million in direct financial benefits to the more than 1.8 million credit union members statewide between June 2010 and June 2011. That equates to $63 per member or $119 per member household.

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