New York credit unions have added at least 39,000 members and grown deposits by $270 million since Bank of America announced it would impose a $5 monthly fee on debit cards, according to the Credit Union Association of New York.
And this was information reported by the Credit Union Association of New York prior to bank transfer day Nov. 5.
If you were one of the several people who switched from a bank to a credit union that day, you were not alone.
According to Melinda Best, Affinity One chief executive officer, six new accounts were opened because of the bank transfer day at her credit union. John Felton, Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union chief executive officer, said they had at least 30 calls from people acquiring information to possibly make the switch.
Critics of the banking system in the United States declared Saturday, Nov. 5, National Bank Transfer Day - a grassroots movement that encouraged bank customers to switch to credit unions. The notion behind the event was to teach banks a critical lesson. The bank switch day even had a Facebook page that received more than 60,000 people who liked the page.
Ms. Best said Affinity One didn't know what to expect as bank transfer day approached, but was happy with the activity they received.
"We didn't know how it would affect this area because we don't have the huge banks in the area like Bank of America," she said. "We weren't sure how it would affect us. We were pleasantly surprised to open six new accounts."
Felton said he believes the calls Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union received were people doing comparative shopping with what the credit union can offer compared to a bank.
"(W)e've seen some people come in and I would say a handful have opened a new account," he said.
Even though banks that were planning to charge monthly debit fees have backdown from the proposal, both credit union officials believe they will still see plenty of activity from people switching.
"Generally speaking, credit union fees have always been less. Even before banks were going after aggressive charges," Felton said. "We typically add people because we offer lower fees and have higher rates of interest on returns. The value you receive from a credit union seems to be able to beat what you can get from a bank. And switching accounts is not a difficult process. we have a switch kit ... that simplifies the process."
Ms. Best said another attractive quality for credit unions compared to most banks is quick loan approval.
"Fees are just one of the things affecting consumers. There are many other things that come into play," she said. "With loan approvals, if you go to a bank there is no telling how long you well wait for approval. We pride ourselves in having a loan decision in an hour. Decisions aren't made by a centralized loan office, but by local people who understand the needs of the community."
Anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Chautauqua County is eligible to join Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union. Anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in southern Chautauqua County can join Affinity One.
There are five branches of the Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union: 168 E. Fairmount Ave., Lakewood; 6834 Main St., Cherry Creek; 562 Clymer-Sherman Road, Clymer; 7 Elm St., Westfield; and 525 Falconer St. in the Hamilton Collegiate Center at Jamestown Community College.
Affinity One Federal Credit Union is located at 545 E. Second St., Jamestown.