SEATTLE -- Like other Washington State credit unions, last month's fire sale of Washington Mutual Savings Bank to JPMorgan Chase Bank brought a huge jump in memberships for the $8.5 billion BECU.
Daily membership "has doubled since the severity of WaMu's problems become known at mid-month," said a BECU spokesman.
In fact, September set an all-time monthly record for BECU of 8,100 new members, excluding indirect auto lending members, said the spokesman for the 580,000-member Seattle CU. "It certainly is a great time for credit unions," said the spokesman.
The daily average signed up for the first two weeks of September hit 277 through Sept. 14, about the same time the news broke, according to the spokesman.
The figure climbed to 490 during the last two weeks of the month, a 76% increase. The Office of Thrift Supervision placed WaMu into receivership Sept. 25 and subsequently sold it to Chase.
There is little doubt, said the BECU spokesman, that October member growth numbers will be equally strong. "We're going gangbusters."
On another front, the California/Nevada Credit Union League said its find a credit union Web sites have shown a 60% increase for successful public searches in September. The increases have been most pronounced in California, Florida, Washington and North Carolina.
"The dramatic jump in successful searches has occurred since July in every state and can be traced to the ongoing crisis, which is obviously bringing in more members," said Catherine Arra, program manager of findacreditunion.com, which is offered online by 28 state leagues.
In North Carolina, where Citibank and Wells Fargo fought in court for a time over Wachovia Bank, the increase in searches rose by 62% for the second quarter.