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Ex-bank customers save at CUs CUNA reminds
WASHINGTON (6/1/12)--A recent Consumers Union study found that some big banks charge a fee even when an accountholder tries to avoid big bank bank fees by shifting their money away to a smaller institution. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) took the  opportunity to remind that consumers save more than $6 billion per year in better rates and lower fees by choosing credit unions over banks.

Consumers Union publishes Consumer Reports Magazine, and also operates as a consumer public advocacy group.

Noting that "public outrage over unfair bank practices and rising fees has prompted more and more consumers to consider switching to new financial institutions in search of better deals," the publisher and consumer advocacy organization surveyed bank customers to see why some have remained with their bank. Cost and time constraints were the dominant factors, the survey found.

Overall, closing an account at one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S. could cost as much as $55. The report did not examine fee structures beyond those ten banks.

Consumers Union urged customers that are unhappy with their banks to vote with their dollars, and switch accounts. The consumer group provided several tips for consumers looking to transfer their accounts, including:

  • Opening their new account before closing the existing account;
  • Making a list of all automatic deposits and withdrawals that go into and are taken out of their existing account;
  • Rerouting paychecks into their new account; and
  • Keeping a small amount of funds in their existing account, at least for a short amount of time.
Consumer anger over high bank fees helped drive an increase in credit union membership in 2011 that has carried into 2012, as CUNA statistics showed credit unions gained half a million new members in March, bringing total membership to 95.2 million. The growth spurt indicates the momentum credit unions gained leading up to Nov. 5's  Bank Transfer Day activities is alive and well five months after that  event, and CUNA said credit unions should continue to make the most of that momentum. (See related May 9 News Now story: Member growth spurt: Half a million in March)

For more on the Consumers Union report, use the resource link.
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