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Angry bank clients to switch Nov. 5

By Claes Bell · Bankrate.com
Monday, October 24, 2011
Posted: 3 pm ET

Tired of all the new fees popping up at large national banks?

There's a bank protest afoot that doesn't involve camping, picketing or being gawked at by the national media. It's called "Bank Transfer Day," and it's a social-media driven movement started by art gallery owner Kristin Christian. It aims to convince bank customers angered by new fees to move their money en masse to small banks or credit unions on Nov. 5.

The movement has largely been orchestrated through Facebook, where the page has nearly 24,000 likes and numerous comments left by supporters and critics alike. Christian herself has been careful to keep the movement nonpartisan and distance it from the Occupy Wall Street protests happening in metro areas all over the country.

Last week Tess Vigeland of American Public Media's excellent Marketplace radio show interviewed Christian:

CHRISTIAN: Well, after 13 years of abuse by Bank of America, everything from severe fees for a severe lack of services to having my funds frozen at any given moment. The final straw came when my former supervisor posted to his Facebook page, as a status, "Bank of America's charging $5."

VIGELAND: And that was the $5 fee for debit cards.

CHRISTIAN: Mmhmm. I don't tend to just believe what I read. So I did call a representative and spoke to them and asked them for the exact details of this new fee structure. And I was very disappointed, to say the least. At that point, I began researching. When I found credit unions, I was floored. Lower rates, any fees to join usually go to charity -- they really do make an effort to reinvest in local communities both through charities and through offering low-interest rate loans to independent citizens and small-to-medium size businesses.

VIGELAND: I know one of the questions that has been asked is whether this is tied to the Occupy Wall Street movement.

CHRISTIAN: Absolutely in no way. There's been a lot of confusion on that. While I do appreciate the enthusiasm that Occupy Wall Street has put into Bank Transfer Day, I don't personally condone the means of which they approach situations. I don't believe that people should go in large groups to banks to close their accounts, bringing signage and disrespecting the bank employees. Because when you opened your account, I know you didn't have signage and you spoke frankly and respectfully to the employee who assisted you.

I think Christian is right that a good way for bank customers to make their displeasure about new fees heard is through moving their accounts to local institutions, which often offer more competitive pricing and a more personalized approach to client care.

That being said, deciding where to keep your checking account isn't a decision that should be taken lightly, and financial decisions born of emotion rather than cold analysis rarely turn out. It might feel good to tell your bank to take their checking account and shove it, but be sure that short-term satisfaction isn't soured by the realization that you really need some of the services your old bank offered, and your new institution isn't prepared to provide them. Every financial institution has its pluses and minuses, community banks included.

I think consumers would benefit from taking some time to really look at the details of the checking accounts they're considering, including fee schedules, and figure out who can meet their needs at the lowest cost.

That's not an argument for checking account apathy; if you're unhappy with your current arrangement, a checking account change is a good idea. I'm just arguing that objective analysis is better than knee-jerk reaction when it comes to key financial decisions.

What do you think? Is Bank Transfer Day a good idea? Do you plan to switch accounts soon?

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45 Comments
Deboracle
October 28, 2011 at 8:01 pm

I quit B of A last year for too many fees and no customer service. I now use credit unions and could not be happier.
There are many good banking alternatives.

deepa
October 28, 2011 at 6:15 pm

What is most egregious about the $5 fee at BofA is that people who have a $20k balance or have a mortgage with BofA do not have to pay the fee. That means this fee will be levied on the poorest account holders (people who do not have $20k and are renters).

I have never been with a national/multinational bank, I've always used a credit union or small local bank and i have no complaints after 20+ years!

roger
October 28, 2011 at 5:08 pm

i already deal with a local bank no fees no charge for checking open on sat. check these things out

Ken
October 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Tired of Banks acting like they are victims. In days past they made their money on my deposits in the form of loans. Now, a computer processes my transactions and the bank says it costs them money...WHAT? Banks think we are ignorant, and in case no one noticed they posted higher profits....again!
Moving this weekend to a credit union...I am done being ripped off to line banker's pockets.

Mike S
October 28, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Why would we believe anything this webisite says (bankrate.com). They have one agenda.

Doreen
October 28, 2011 at 1:42 am

Robby, I wasn't aware that any bank was "forced" to take bailout money by Barney Frank; furthermore, when were they denied the right to repay? I think you may need to elaborate on where you are deriving your information, and please be forthright with complete information. I think most of us are interested in what each other has to state, but it's a bit disconcerting, when one of us appears to be blaming and pointing fingers, and with what appears to be misrepresented information.

Robbie
October 27, 2011 at 10:48 pm

What message are we sending? The Federal Reserve Banking Committe should be penalized not the banks.If everyone pulls their money out of the larger banks what will happen? A couple of very sad things: massive firing of many Americans, and Banks will raise loans rates and fees to those who were considering buying a home or opening a business. It seems to me that this will prolong the devistation to the economy. After all, wasn't it Barney Frank (part of our gov't oversite committee..who by the way evaded paying his own property taxes for years...) who forced these banks to take bail out cash and when they wanted to be rid of the government hanging over their shoulders, were not allowed to pay back the debts! Are we all cattle following the Piper?

Manny
October 27, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Already started moving my money to a credit union

Ines
October 27, 2011 at 1:06 pm

I already had a charge of $5.00 + maintance $12.00 per month with BANK OF AMERICA.Who knows what is next.

Tammy
October 26, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Been with BOA for many years and a happy customer. They were charging me 12.00 per month fees so I walked in and said what can you do for me as otner banks will not charge. They immediately looked at my accounts and simply changed over to other types of accounts and done. I have not paid one cent in years and did nothing different. If your savy you can accomplish just about anything in any situation.