Bay area bank customers switching to credit unions

10:19 PM, Oct 1, 2011   |    comments
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Brandon, Florida - Some Bay area bank customers say the latest announcement from Bank of America is the final straw. The largest bank in the country by deposits is soon going to start charging customers a five dollar fee each month just to swipe their debit cards and that has many customers moving their money to credit unions.

Marsha Deweese says, "I'm really not happy about that idea."
But Deweese has options because she's not only a Bank of America customer, she's also a longtime member of Florida West Coast Credit Union at 1225 Millennium Parkway in Brandon.

Deweese says, "So, it's cheaper. It's faster. It's easier and it's a phone call. The personal service...I can pick up the phone and say, 'Hi' and they know who I am and I know who they are."

Credit unions are seeing their largest growth in seven years and part of that is due to the dissatisfaction with big banks and their fees.

Mary Wood is the president and CEO of Florida West Coast Credit Union where members don't have to have a minimum balance. There are no monthly service charges and no charges for writing checks either. 

Wood says, "They're trying to find ways to save money and cut expenses. Once they join the credit union they say, 'You know, I don't know why I never joined before.'"

She adds that credit unions are not for profit cooperative financial institutions that are member owned. More than 90 million Americans belong to credit unions.

While some in the past have only accepted members with specific places of employment, more and more credit unions are offering their services to anyone.

Click here to find a credit union near you.

Still, some credits unions have been criticized for not offering as many branch locations and ATM machines. Wood says, "But we also have a very full service ATM network."

Deweese says while she likes the extras that Bank of America offers, the extra fees just aren't worth it. She says, "I keep it mostly just because of the online banking, but the credit union has now set that up here, so I have it, so what's the point? Well, I just might move everything."

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