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Bank patrons unlikely to switch

By Marcie Geffner ·
Friday, November 4, 2011
Posted: 12 pm ET

Bank Transfer Day makes a darn good headline.

But in fact, most consumers are extremely, very or at least somewhat likely to continue their existing relationship with their primary bank or credit union, according to a recent online poll of 2,463 adults by Harris Interactive.

Only 3 percent of respondents said they weren't at all likely to continue to use their current bank or credit union in the near future. The total for bank customers was 4 percent, while the figure for credit union customers was 2 percent. Either way, those are small numbers.

Other figures also support that conclusion.

Only 18 percent of bank customers said they were extremely satisfied, while 28 percent of respondents who belonged to a credit union said they were extremely satisfied customers. At the other end of the scale, 4 percent of bank customers said they weren't at all satisfied, while the figure for credit union customers was less than 1 percent. That looks bad for the banks.

But consider the vast middle ground. In all, 78 percent of bank customers said they were very satisfied, satisfied or somewhat satisfied. The total for credit union customers was 73 percent. So while the banks lost out among those who had very strongly positive or negative feelings, those in the middle were fairly content, regardless of whether they patronized a bank or credit union.

And that looks good for the banks. Because, as the people at Harris Interactive acknowledged in their statement about the survey, switching is a time-consuming and complex task.

"While only one-quarter to one-third of big bank customers are experiencing a positive overall relationship, almost half are likely to continue to use the same institutions," the pollsters said. "Are we at a tipping point? Community and regional banks, along with credit unions, are providing consumers with more information, help and tools to make informed financial decisions. Will these initiatives combat the historical inertia?"

Either way, banks might not be all that unhappy to lose some of their customers -- if those who bolt are not just dissatisfied, but unprofitable as well. Will you stick with your current bank or credit union or make a switch and why?

Follow me on Twitter: @marciegeff

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November 06, 2011 at 2:30 pm

For most people that find it difficult to switch- it's not changing banks that's time comsuming but rather switching direct deposits, auto-pays, etc that can be a hassle. Especially when a merchant doesn't change the account info in time and tries to pull from a now closed account.

November 05, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Almost everything is electronic these days; it would not be that hard to switch banks.

November 05, 2011 at 2:33 pm

What are they talking's time-consuming to switch? These days it only takes a little research and a few clicks of a mouse to switch banks. Would I switch if I was dissatisfied with my bank? Yes!!! I've already done some research on and have found some good alternatives to the accounts I currently hold. The banks might just be surprised. If the people in the middle stay with their banks, they may just be unaware as of yet.

November 04, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Well, I mean, the big banks all pretty much have the same or similar policies, so what would you gain? Credit unions may have better fee structures, but you may not get all the services and features you would with a large institution, like 24hr customer service or free online banking, or they may not do mortgages or investments. So, overall, if you manage your finances responsibly, your bank should be able to service your needs sufficiently.

Dennis Bell
November 04, 2011 at 3:10 pm

When pople start to become more aware of th hifher interest rates they can earn on some rewards checking accounts they will switch. We did we switcdh fro a Wells Fargo cheking account earning .05 percent to a Consumer Credit Union checking account paying more than 4 percent. It wasn't that hard to do. Why wouldn't someone keep lazy money at a bank when they can put it to work for them with rewards checking.