Support grows for 'Bank Transfer Day'

FRESNO, California

The grass roots movement was born out of anger over rising bank fees. On "Bank Transfer Day" people are asked to move their money out of large banks and into credit unions and community banks.

Local credit unions already report a surge in new customers. Keri Bennitt is a vice-president for the Fresno County Federal Credit Union. She said 450 new members signed up in October.

Bennitt said, "They don't have to be paying to be using their own money and I think this has really brought to light there are alternatives out there and that credit unions are a great alternative."

There are differences in the two. Banks are for-profit organizations owned by private investors. Credit unions are non-profit co-ops owned by members, which is why Golden 1 president Donna Bland says it can offer free checking and debit cards.

Bland explained, "We return our earnings back to our customers and our members in the form of better rates on loans, better rates on deposits, low to no fees on services."

Bland says Golden 1 branches will extend its hours on Saturday from 9am to 4pm to meet the expected demand. She added, "They do not need to need to be victims to the large banks. They do not have to pay these fees."

Some said banks offer easy to find ATM locations in more cities. A Bank of America spokesperson told Action News "We offer customers more choice and convenience."

Bennitt said you don't sacrifice convenience by using a credit union. "We also have the contract with all the ATMs inside the 7-11's across the country."

A Wells Fargo Bank spokesperson told us when a customer chooses to close an account, "We will help with that request while seeking to understand and address the customer's concerns."

Bland said Golden 1 saw a 40% increase in new checking accounts in the last month.

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