If you haven’t heard by now, credit unions are making a killing off of the fast-growing Occupy Wall Street movement. 650,000 people moved from big banks to credit unions in October, 50,000 more than in ALL of 2010. New deposits totaled $4.5 billion. I think that while big banks aren’t suffering yet, they’re feeling the heat. People are pissed. The big banks screwed the country, then got bailed out by the government (screwing the country again), and then went ahead and paid out record bonuses to banking execs. They thought they got away with it too, until Occupy Wall Street came along….
Now, these banks aren’t really making any concessions to the 99% (other than deciding NOT to add a new $5/month charge for having a debit card.. yippee!). Instead, they seem to be putting their money on getting Mitt Romney elected as the next president of the United States. And I imagine they are hoping the 99% of the U.S. that has been getting screwed for the past couple decades just cools off and goes back to watching TV in all its spare time.
But I don’t think either is going to happen. The 99% are marching on, and they are marching out of banks. Tomorrow, November 5, is actually “Bank Transfer Day” — I’m looking forward to seeing the statistics from it. And my bet is this mass exodus from society’s institutional robbers will continue in the months to come.
Aside from it being a form of protest and political action, pulling your money out of banks just makes sense. “[C]onsumers are clearly making a smarter choice by moving to credit unions where, on average, they will save about $70 a year in fewer or no fees, lower rates on loans and higher return on savings,” said Bill Cheney, president and CEO of the Credit Union National Association.
What exactly are credit unions? Jeremy Bloom of sister site Red, Green, and Blue has a nice summary:
“Credit unions are financial cooperatives owned by their accountholders, rather than outside investors. Because they are member-owned and not-for-profit, credit unions return their excess earnings back to the members they serve, typically through higher rates on savings accounts, lower rates on loans, and by charging lower and fewer fees. The money stays local and is plowed back into the community.”
Jeremy also points out that there’s a growing “Move Our Money” movement focused on getting cities and other institutions to ditch big banks in favor of local credit unions as well. Apparently, the City of San Jose is already on board. We’ll have to see where that sub-movement goes. That could be the tide that really starts putting pressure on the banks’ backs.
Interested in switching to a credit union? Here are some handy resources:
- aSmarterChoice.org (to help you find a local credit union).
- FearlessRevolution offers a step-by-step list of things to consider in this process.
- Bank Transfer Day is on Facebook , of course, and is already ~80,000 strong.
- Move Our Money USA also has more information and tips on organizing local actions.
Image Credit: Fayerman
I'm the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular clean energy website in the world, and Planetsave, a leading green and science news site. I've been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and I've been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, bicycling, and wind energy for the past few years. You can also find my work on Scientific American, Reuters, Think Progress, GE's ecomagination site, several sites in the Important Media network, & many other places. To connect on some of your favorite social networks, go to zacharyshahan.com or click on some of the links below.