NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Bank of America (BAC - Get Report)plan to charge customers $5 for using their debit cards -- now aborted -- nonetheless looks to have driven many disgruntled customers into the arms of credit unions.
Since Bank of America announced its planned fee on Sept. 29, 650,000 consumers joined a credit union, according to estimates from Credit Union National Association (CUNA). That compares to 600,000 new credit union customers in all of 2010.
"These results indicate that consumers are clearly making a smarter choice by moving to credit unions where, on average, they will save about $70 a year in fewer or no fees, lower rates on loans and higher return on savings." said Bill Cheney, president and CEO of CUNA, in a press release.
Other banks, including Wells Fargo (WFC - Get Report), Regions Financial (RF - Get Report), SunTrust (STI - Get Report) and J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM - Get Report) had also been experimenting with charging fees for debit card use, though they have since called off those plans, as has Bank of America.Big bank critics and consumer groups, as well as Occupy Wall Street, have been promoting a "national bank transfer day," this Saturday, Nov. 5, where consumers are expected pull money out of big banks as a gesture of protest. -- Written by Dan Freed in New York.