Increase in customers at Credit Unions

The Michigan Credit Union League today said credit unions across the state are reporting huge numbers of people opening new accounts, many of them fed up with the level of service and fees at big banks. A survey unveiled today shows some of Michigan’s largest credit unions saw double and in some cases even triple the number of new accounts in October, as compared to October 2010.

According to preliminary estimates from the Credit Union National Association and MCUL, Michigan credit unions gained 27,900 new members between Sep. 29 and Oct. 29. That’s nearly as many members who joined Michigan credit unions in one month as did in all of 2010. Michigan’s one-month total of new members is also the largest of all the Great Lakes states, and per capita among the highest in the nation.

The spike in Michigan credit union membership reflects national trends: Based on a nationwide survey of 5,000 credit unions, CUNA estimates that at least 650,000 consumers across the country have joined credit unions since Sept. 29 – which is more new members in one month alone than all of 2010 combined. Also during that time, CUNA estimates that credit unions have added $4.5 billion in new savings accounts, likely from the new members and existing members shifting their funds.

“In these tough times, consumers are clearly making careful decisions and choosing to move their money to credit unions where, on average, they will save about $81 a year in fewer or no fees, lower rates on loans and higher return on savings,” said David Adams, CEO of the Michigan Credit Union League & Affiliates. “The vast majority of credit unions still provide free checking and debit cards because they are not-for-profits owned by their members: families and small businesses on Main Streets all across Michigan.”

The move to credit unions began after several major national banks announced they would implement fees for what had been free services, significantly increasing charges for basic checking accounts and debit cards and requiring their customers to have more money in their accounts. This week, amid widespread public protests, Bank of America and other banks said they would not implement the debit card fees, although many analysts have said the about-face only encouraged consumers to shop for the best value when it comes to meeting their financial needs.