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CU System
Polls indicate consumers would switch
MADISON, Wis. (10/21/11)--At least two polls say a good portion of consumers surveyed would switch banks if they were hit with debit fees, according to a number of reports in national media, Although answering a survey about intentions is different from actually following through and leaving a bank, the polls are documentation that consumers are fed up with banks' fees. The latest wave of discontent resulted from big banks such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo's announcements that they will charge or are testing fees on debit card usage. A new poll commissioned by CreditCards.com and conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media from Oct. 7 to 9 had these results, as reported in CreditCards.com (Oct. 20):
* Nearly four out of five debit card holders surveyed (78%) said they will switch banks to avoid monthly fees charged when they use their debit cards to make purchases. * Two out of three debit card users surveyed (68%) said they will ditch their cards if their banks start charging monthly fees. * Debit card holders also reported they would pay with cash instead (81% of those surveyed) and pay with a credit card instead (42%). * Those surveyed, when asked how high a fee would be before they would switch from debit cards to another form of payment, identified $3.90 as the average turning point, or $1.10 less than Bank of America's planned $5 a month debit card usage charge. * Many said a $1 fee would be too much to pay. Of those surveyed, 44% said they would switch to another form of payment if just $1 were charged. Another 14% said $3 would be the point at which they would search for options. And 22% said $5 would be too much. Of the group, 79% indicated they would stop using their debit cards if hit with a $5 fee.
A second study indicated that about 30% of U.S. consumers surveyed said they would leave their banks over fees for using their debit cards, reported several media, including Bloomberg.com and SmartMoney.com Oct. 19) . That study, by Fort Washingon, Pa.-based The Research Intelligence Group, a consulting and marketing strategy firm that is a unit of Montreal-based Leger Marketing, also found that 43% of those surveyed said they would switch to paying cash or credit cards if their banks implemented charges. Thirteen percent indicated they would pay the fee if "reasonable." Low- to middle-income consumers were more likely to pay the fees, a reflection that less affluent populations often believe they have few options at their disposal, said a The Research Intelligence Group. About 22% of consumers whose households earned between $35,000 and $49,000 a year indicated they would be willing to pay the fee. That compares with 14% of consumers with household income of $100,000 or more who would pay it, said the report. The fees introduced by banks have brought a backlash that is focusing on Nov. 5, Bank Transfer Day. Many are urging consumers to switch their checking accounts to credit unions or small banks for free checking.


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