KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Tens of thousands of people took their frustrations to the banks Saturday by taking their business elsewhere.
The grassroots effort behind "Bank Transfer Day" has earned, just on Facebook, 79,000 fans who have pledged to join a credit union or community bank and leave their big name bank behind. About a hundred
A new survey says more than 650,000 people have switched to credit unions since Bank of America announced a new $5 debit card fee, a fee they eventually scrapped under pressure from customers.
Even though the big banks have canceled monthly debit card fees, there is still a lot of anger out there.
"These banks our supposed to be investment vehicles in our community not vehicles overseas or taking our money and sending money to wall street where it can be gambled," said local organizer Tom Kessler.
Right now, credit unions are taking advantage of the anger.
At least three credit unions in Kansas City, Missouri are adding staff and extending hours Saturday to prepare for an influx of new customers. The Occupy KC protest organizers invited credit unions to come to their camp Saturday, ready to sign customers as well. At least one has accepted. And people are receiving mass emails to protest big banks on Main Street in Lenexa, Kansas, leave those banks and sign up at smaller banks.
"When they lose a customer they pay attention and when they lose 10,000 they really pay attention and they'll pay more attention the bigger the numbers get," said Dan Bohrer.
Some credit unions are also offering deals to help lure customers away. One offers free checking and no debit card fees for life. You might get a cash bonus for switching.
The advantages of smaller banks and credit unions they say are fewer fees and more personal attention. The advantages of a big bank? More branches, more ATM's and better online and mobile banking service.