With the expectation that many frustrated bank customers on Long Island will transfer their money from big banks to non-profit credit unions in celebration of Bank Transfer Day, two local credit unions announced extended hours for Saturday, in order to assist potential new customers looking for fresh new checking and saving accounts.
Bethpage Federal Credit Union and Nassau Educators Federal Credit Union announced extended hours this week. Bethpage will be open until 4 p.m. on Saturday, and NEFCU will have its doors open until 3 p.m. The Island’s third credit union, Teachers Federal Credit Union is open until 4:30 p.m., like it is every Saturday.
In the week’s leading up to the national event, the three credit unions joined forces to create the website betterbankingforlongisland.com, where they challenge Long Islanders to “take a stand” on Nov. 5.
Saturday is the day many non-profit credit unions across the country have been waiting for since the Bank Transfer Day event hit Facebook. Many of them are expecting an increase in traffic after seeing a spike in new customers in recent weeks.
Long Island’s NEFCU reported a 23 percent increase in new checking accounts since the Bank Transfer Day movement began. The movement has also spurred plenty of activity nationwide with Credit Union National Association reporting 650,000 consumers across the country have joined credit unions in the last four weeks.
“With more and more individuals and businesses getting frustrated with the additional fees they are being charged by banks, people are starting to look at their options,” Robert G. Allen, president and CEO of Teachers Federal Credit Union, said in a statement. “Bank Transfer Day is just another opportunity for credit unions to educate consumers about the value of credit union membership.”
The backlash recently prompted big commercial banks like JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America to abandon planned debit card fees. Bank of America was planning on charging a $5 a month fee for debit transactions, and Chase was considering a $3 fee.
On Wednesday, Bank of America became the latest to scratch its plan to charge additional fees.
“We have listened to our customers very closely over the last few weeks and recognize their concern with our proposed debit usage fee,” David Darnell, co-chief operating officer of Bank of America, said in a statement. “As a result, we are not currently charging the fee and will not be moving forward with any additional plans to do so.”
Chase, Wells Fargo, SunTrust and Regions Financial also nixed plans for extra fees.
Corporate banks defended the fees at the time, saying they were essential to compensate for revenue lost because of new regulations limiting how much banks can collect from retailers who allow debit card transactions.
Despite the about-face by banks, public anger still persists: More than 76,000 have RSVP’d through Facebook alone to move their money to local nonprofit credit unions.
Valerie Garguilo, VP of Marketing and Community Relations for NEFCU, said the credit union is expecting more people to walk through the doors on Saturday, despite banks’ decision to abandon fees.
“If people want to remain in their bank, that’s fine if you’re happy with your bank,” she said, “but certainly if you’re not, there is an alternative.”