The Occupy Wall Street movement nationwide has made visible the long-simmering frustration many of us have felt watching the rising income inequality in America. That income inequality stems directly from many of the policies put in place by our largest financial institutions, who continue to nickel and dime many of us for the “privilege” of managing our money with them.
That's why Burnt Orange Report is proud to announce today that we're officially endorsing this Saturday's Bank Transfer Day and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee's Banxodus effort, and calling on all of our readers to switch from a corporate bank to a credit union.
To kick things off, Burnt Orange Report has moved our account from Chase to Velocity Credit Union here in Austin. We'll get a better interest rate, no monthly fee, and the knowledge that we are voting with our wallet for a more equitable economy — all in all, it's a no-brainer. Join us. Below we've got information about why you should join, and a great set of tools to help you make the switch.
Why you should join a credit union
Not-for-profit credit unions are owned by their members. These banks aren't under pressure by Wall Street investors to maximize quarterly returns. Instead, profits go back to the members in the form of higher interest on savings and lower interest on loans, mortgages, and credit card balances.
The same is not true in the world of for-profit corporate banking. Just look at the chart on the left showing the tremendous consolidation of the consumer banking industry in the last 20 years. These big banks think they can get away with charging you exorbitant interest or excessive fees because you don't have a choice. Well, you do have a choice, and that choice is a credit union that meets your needs.
A wide range of financial planners and media outlets agree: credit unions are better for your money. Here's why:
1. Fewer fees, more savings. The Credit Union National Association estimates that consumers save more than $6 billion a year in better rates and lower fees by using credit unions. That's your money — who should make a profit off of it, you or your bank? — ABC News
2. Credit cards with lower interest rates. Federal law prohibits federal credit unions from charging interest rates above 18%. Credit union customers pay, on average, 20% less in credit card interest. — Forbes
3. Better customer service. 70% of credit union members feel that the institution put the customer's interests ahead of the institution itself. The highest big bank, Wells Fargo, came in at a 40% positive rating. —Forbes
4. No penalties for using or not using your money. Corporate banks routinely charge you to open a checking account, charge you if your account is dormant, charge you if your balance drops below a certain level. It's crazy! Credit unions simply do not engage in these kinds of practices — practices that are focused on driving up quarterly profits, regardless of customer satisfaction. — MSN Money
5. Your money stays in your community. Credit unions primarily employ people locally, and give back generously as well. Local credit unions are also more likely to give loans to local businesses, especially women- and minority-owned businesses. Since the recession began, credit unions have vastly expanded their business loan operations, which helps keep funds working in the local community. — Businessweek
Already Bank of America has already backed down on the $5 user fee they tried to charge all customers to use their own debit cards. But let's not be naive and assume big, corporate banks will changing their ways — move your money to an institution that cares more about you than corporate institutional investors.
Over the next few weeks, we will be encouraging local progressive and Democratic organizations and campaigns to switch from corporate banks to not-for-profit credit unions. It's time to make sure that progressive money is banking with institutions that care more about the members than how they can profit from them.
It's easy to make the switch
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has put together a great set of tools to help you find a friendly, local credit union.
- 1. Take the pledge. Commit to moving your money, if not by November 5 than by the end of this year. Click here and sign on to the growing “Move Your Money!” movement.
2. Find a new bank. It's easy. The Banxodus page put together by PCCC makes it simple — just enter your zip code and search. You'll want to do some research: ask about interest rates for savings and checking; look for a no-balance-transfer fee to move your funds; find out what ATM fees are at non-member ATM's, and if the credit union participates in local and national credit union networks that you can use away from home.
3. Move your money. For some folks, it might be easier to start by opening an account with a credit union, beginning to deposit money there and use the checking and online systems, and get comfortable with it. That's fine. Over time, you'll realize like so many other Americans that the credit union is more responsive, provides better customer service, and is much more eager to help you, a fellow citizen, find the banking solutions that work for you.
Just a note of warning: those big corporate banks might have a hard time letting you go. It might take a few phone calls and possibly even a few visits in person to get your money — your own money! — out of their clutches. But it's worth it, in the end, to know that your money is working in your community, rather than funding a massive global financial industry that helped get us into the mess we're in.
Join us. Move your money to a credit union. Tell us why you're moving your money, or your former big bank horror stories before you switched. And more importantly, spread the word. Share this post on Facebook, email it to friends. Together, we can each do our part to help support a banking system that's a lot more fair to all of us.
Join Burnt Orange Report and move your money!