N.Y. Times, 117 media outlets spotlight CUs, no fees
10/11/2011 03:18 pm
As of Friday afternoon, the AP item had been repeated in 117 publications and websites--including The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times (Oct. 7).
The article, which appeared as "Mad at bank fees? Credit unions get another look" in The New York Times, notes that "credit unions are basking in the spotlight again."
"Whenever a big bank rolls out a controversial fee, customers start fuming about taking their business elsewhere and the attention often falls on credit unions," the article says. "That happened again ...when Bank of America said it would soon start charging customers a $5 monthly fee to make debit card purchases. This time around, it seems some customers have finally had it."
The article says several credit unions saw higher percentages of new account openings since the news. It notes that the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is reporting an uptick in inquiries and account openings and cites locate credit union websites such as www.ASmarterChoice.org. The article also offers a rundown on what credit unions can and can't offer, and it quotes CUNA on joining a credit union and on why credit unions can offer better rates. For the full article, use the link.
That wasn't the only article circulating. A number of media outlets had opinions on the debit card fees topic and discussed credit unions as alternatives.
"Just when it seemed American consumers couldn't get more nickel and dimed, the larger financial institutions decide to pile on yet another reminder that they couldn't give two cents about the little folks they call customers," wrote Michelle Durand in her "Off the Beat" column on the The Daily Journal in San Mateo, Calif. Thursday.
"The beauty of this newest financial kick is that now smaller institutions, both banks and credit unions, have a greater opportunity to throw the net wide for consumers with promises of free services that actually have interest attached. Who would have thought those are still options?" Durand wrote.
Another blog, "Be pro-active about banking fees," written by guest columnist Rick Bloom on the Observer & Eccentric, told readers, "don't be afraid to look at credit unions and internet banks...Credit unions, for example, have become very easy to deal with. It used to be they didn't offer some of the same services as banks; that is no longer the case. Credit unions have become very user friendly and save consumers a substantial amount of money."
A guest editorial inThe Modesto Bee (Oct. 6) from Andrew Ogilvie of Modesto, Calif., urged consumers upset with fees toward "a simple solution: Don't do business with the big banks. Close your accounts and go to a credit union or community bank...It's so easy; the credit union will help you. Move your money now."
Leagues and credit unions also stepped up their outreach to media and consumers on the topic. On Wednesday, Philadelphia's NBC 10 "Consumer Watch" segment focused on how consumers are getting around rising bank fees and switching to credit unions.
Consumer reporter Tracy Davidson interviewed Mike Wishnow, senior vice president, communications & marketing at the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, via Skype (Life is a Highway
Many leagues--taking the lead from CUNA--have released press statements outlining the fact that consumers don't have to take outrageous bank fees sitting down. They point out the benefits of joining a credit union and cite surveys that indicate free checking at banks is disappearing, while eight of 10 credit unions still offer at least one free checking account with no minimum balance requirement and no maintenance or activity fees.
Arkansas FCU, Jacksonville, Ark., noted in a press release that while other financial institutions shy away from offering free checking and free debit cards, it is doing just the opposite.
"We currently do not have any plans to charge a debit card usage fee now or anytime in the future. In fact, we'll go one step further and guarantee no debit card usage fees for at least the next three years," said Arkansas FCU President/CEO Larry Biernacki. "As long as I am in charge, no Arkansas Federal member will pay a monthly fee to use our debit card."