Credit Unions Dial Down Bank Transfer Day Estimates

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The Credit Union National Association dialed down earlier estimates about how many customers closed their accounts at big banks and joined credit unions leading up to National Bank Transfer Day, after a quarterly report revealed discrepancies in the data.

The new survey results show that only 214,000 people joined credit unions in in October, a significant decrease from the number that CUNA had previously reported. Last month, the group said that credit unions had added approximately 650,000 new members between Sept. 29, the day that Bank of America (Stock Quote:  BAC) announced its now-rescinded monthly $5 debit card fee, and Bank Transfer Day.

CUNA says it still stands by its estimate for Bank Transfer Day itself, maintaining that 40,000 new members joined credit unions on Nov. 5, but it does not believe that an additional 209,000 members were added between Nov. 1 and November 4, as that amount of new accounts may be attributed to existing customers.

Instead, the initial 650,000 estimate actually represents a combination of new members and new checking accounts from existing members at credit unions. It attributed the discrepancy to ambiguous wording in the survey immediately following Bank Transfer Day, which may have prompted staff to report new accounts along with new members.

Despite the lower estimates, credit unions are still adding members at a rapid rate.

CUNA says the 441,000 new members added in September and October of this year is roughly equal to 75% of total member growth in all of 2010. Final estimates for 2011 are expected in February.

“Anecdotally, credit unions across the country have reported to us and to their local communities that they experienced record member growth during this period and many report that growth is continuing at a similarly high level,” CUNA President and CEO Bill Cheney said in a written statement.

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