Thousands of people flooded into credit unions and small banks over the weekend as part of “Bank Transfer Day,” an effort to prod depositors to abandon giant banks. But at least some of the big banks won’t mind losing those customers.
On Saturday, the Boeing Employees’ Credit Union in Seattle signed up a one-day record 659 new members. At the grand opening of a Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union branch in Pflugerville, Texas, the parking lot was so full that customers had to leave their cars across the street.
Dozens of people opened an account at the Texas credit union as a local disc jockey gave away prizes. “They’ll treat me like a good customer,” said Charlie Estes, 33 years old, who pulled his life savings out of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., the largest U.S. bank as measured in assets. J.P. Morgan declined to comment.
It won’t be clear for several weeks how many deposits moved to credit unions—the member-owned cooperatives that can’t sell stock and don’t pay taxes—on Bank Transfer Day. But the sprawling, loosely organized effort got lots of attention, partly because of controversial plans by Bank of America Corp. and other large banks to charge customers for using debit cards. The big banks retreated after widespread public furor.