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Next Protest: Balance Transfer Day

Not all customers will be eligible for balance transfers depending on their credit score or the amount of their debt, but organizers still encourage those people to take part by submitting a transfer application, which they say "will be like sending a message of protest."

Another option is to transfer a portion of your debt to credit card with a 0% APR, organizers say. Even if the impact is temporary, the hope is that there will be long-term effects in getting better terms and conditions for customers struggling in tough economic times.

Either way, expert advice suggests the organizers should make it more clear that even people who successfully transfer credit should not close their old cards, since it can lower their credit score.

Just making an inquiry into a new card can hurt your score -- but probably not by much.

Some 650,000 people joined credit unions in the four weeks leading up to Bank Transfer Day, says Patrick Keefe of the Credit Union National Association, and another 40,000 on the day itself, while there were only 600,000 new members in all of 2010. "So in a four-week period, we exceeded one year's growth," he says. "We really do think it was a combination of Bank Transfer Day and the [threat of the] fee itself. We heard over and over again, 'I'm not paying that damn fee.'"

There were no such figures available from the Independent Community Bankers of America, although spokeswoman Aleis Stokes noted that the association's community bank locator saw a 500% increase in page views the weekend of Bank Transfer Day, or an 832% increase in page views over the 30 days before Nov. 5. She cited an informal poll of members showing 60% said they were gaining customers "who have left larger financial institutions out of frustration with their practices," but the poll was taken Oct. 17 and not refreshed in November.

Keeping up the pressure on banks, there's also the New Bottom Line movement -- made up of churches, community organizations and labor unions -- who have a "Move Our Money" campaign under way. The group says it wants to take $1 billion from big banks and put them into local banks and credit unions.

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This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.
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