Nightly News | November 05, 2011
LESTER HOLT, anchor: Now to a wave of discontent over rising bank fees that turned into a wave of action today as people all across the country answered a grassroots call to switch their money from big corporate banks to their local credit unions . What started with a single Facebook posting from a fed up bank customer in Los Angeles apparently touched a nerve, culminating today in what's being called National Bank Transfer Day . In just the last few weeks, hundreds of thousands have apparently made the switch as this latest movement becomes part of a widening public outcry against corporate profits. NBC 's Stephanie Gosk has more.
STEPHANIE GOSK reporting: In street protests around the country, Florida , New York , Texas , big banks got a beating.
Unidentified Woman: Bank of America !
Crowd: Bad for America !
GOSK: Bank customers tired of fees like Bank of America 's recent proposed and then withdrawn debit card fee, are jumping ship. Bank transfer day was started by the owner of an art gallery in LA , herself fed up with corporate banking.
Ms. KRISTEN CHRISTIAN (Bank Transfer Day Founder): Loans, credit cards , any business you have with a major bank, to shift that to a not-for-profit credit union .
GOSK: Unlike banks, credit unions do not make a profit. Checking is often free, interest rates on savings are higher and there is more face time. Since Bank of America tried to impose a monthly debit card fee, 650,000 Americans have switched their checking accounts to credit unions . That's more than all of last year.
Source: Credit Union National Association
GOSK: In a credit union in New York City today, there was a steady stream of new customers like Kim Gallagher .
Ms. KIM GALLAGHER: I watched one bank rep hug two different people today . Thank you, Mary Ann .
GOSK: Gallagher owns a pet grooming business just up the street. She is pulling all of her business out of Chase and depositing her money here.
Ms. GALLAGHER: OK. I feel empowered. These -- the guys that work here, the people that work here are my neighbors. They know my business from walking by it.
GOSK: So credit unions may sound great, but there is a catch. Big banks have branches and ATMs all over. If credit union customers use one of these, they'll face additional charges. Credit unions also have fewer products and business transactions can take more time. For the moment, the increase in their customers is not large enough to drastically affect profits at huge banks like Chase or Bank of America . Still, experts say this is a real example of the rising anger at big business turning into measurable action.
Ms. VERA GIBBONS (MSNBC Financial Analyst): I think now in this weak economy, consumers are saying enough already. The final straw was that monthly debit card charge.
GOSK: Even with that proposed charge now gone, for those taking part in Bank Transfer Day , the damage has been done. Stephanie Gosk, NBC News, New York .