Credit Union Membership Hits All-Time High As Americans Move Their Money From Big Banks

Last year, 10 percent of customers moved their money out of their bank, a significant increase over the previous few years, with fees the number one reason people cited for their discontent. In the 90 days ending in February, a whopping 5.6 million people switched their banks.

At the nation’s biggest banks, those with more than $33 billion in assets, transfer rates are running above 10 percent, while transfer rates are below 1 percent for small banks and credit unions. In fact, one of the main beneficiaries of Americans moving their money has been the nation’s credit unions, as, according to the National Credit Union Administration, credit union membership is now at an all-time high:

Credit unions hit a record number of members last year, as a growing number of consumers grew fed up with the fees at the nation’s biggest banks and took their money elsewhere.

Credit unions added 1.3 million new customers in 2011, bringing total membership to a record 91.8 million by the end of the year, according to data collected by the National Credit Union Administration from the nation’s 7,094 federally-insured credit unions.

The New Bottom Line, a coalition of faith groups, has pledged to move $1 billion out of big banks this year.

Account closures at Bank of America, the nation’s second largest bank, jumped 20 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, potentially driven by the bank’s decision to try implementing a $5 monthly fee for its debt cards. So of course, the bank is preparing a new raft of fees on its accounts.