Credit unions boom with frustrated big bank customers
Reporter: Jessica Chapin
TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) - They're fed up with fees. Thousands of customers across the country are jumping ship from big banks like Bank of America and Wells Fargo, after recent news that they're raising rates. That means local credit unions are seeing a jump in customers.
"There's no reason you shouldn't be able to use your card freely," said Robert Alt, who switched to a credit union because of bank fees.
Bob Renner has been a credit union member and bank customer for years. He says banks, which are owned by members instead of shareholders, offer a better deal for his personal finances.
"If you have inactive accounts after three months they charge you five bucks a month and I've had quote, inactive accounts, with credit unions where they don't charge," he said, "Lower fees, a little higher return and it just seems to work out a little better."
Pyramid Credit Union CEO Ray Lancaster says their new customers increased 30 percent in September alone.
"That's about 50 percent over last year and it's just continued to carry over into October and probably the rest of the year the way it's looking like," he said.
Hughes Federal Credit Union is seeing the same pattern. Branch manager Mary Burruel says they opened 40 new memberships since the fees were implemented at other banks, in her branch alone.
"With the implementation of the bank fees, we've seen an increase in our walk-in business," she said, "The fees are just a lot more minimal than what the banks are offering."
But, Economic Security Integrity spokesperson Kelly Griffith has some words of caution for anyone switching banks.
"A couple real common sense things that people need to remember when switching," she said, "they need to use a little bit of patience and discretion and keep that account open and keep some money in that account for a month."
She says outstanding checks or automatic withdrawals can get people into trouble during the switch, and even cost them more money in overdraft fees if they're not careful.
She also points out many credit unions can charge fees if they want to.
"It's very possible that they may just be going basically from the frying pan into the fire," she said, "So I would just encourage people to be good consumers and do their homework ahead of time."