The credit union industry kept up the Bank Transfer Day offensive Tuesday as two more large banks, SunTrust Banks Inc. of Atlanta and Regions Financial Corp of Birmingham, Ala., canceled new debit fee programs in response to customer backlash.
Despite the SunTrust/Regions reversal in calling off $5 and $4 fees, CUNA officials maintained that public outrage continued despite the pullbacks, which included an “evolving” attitude on Bank of America's part as it dropped plans Tuesday for its $5 charge and Wells Fargo’s decision to suspend its $3 “test” fee.
They argued the moves so far did not seem to have any impact on Bank Transfer Day switching prospects as Saturday, Nov. 5, approaches.
A CUNA spokesman noted once again that online respondents “accepting" Los Angeles art dealer Kristen Christian's Facebook invitation to "transfer" have now topped 70,000, with 435,000 now “invited” to the site.
In response to the latest pullbacks, CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney said “Nov. 5 is one good day to join but any day is a good day for a consumer to become a credit union member.”
In Alabama, Joseph Newberry, president/CEO of the $3.1 billion Redstone FCU, which competes with Regions, called the debit fee cancellation a bank “flip flop” and added that CUs as cooperatives always strive to aid members “by living the ‘people helping people’ motto and not the banks’ philosophy of ‘people helping stockowners.”
Elsewhere, the Maryland/DC Credit Union Association said its launch of a new $146,000 co-op ad campaign, called “Better Banking” would be running through December. The marketing blitz, which started Monday and had been on the drawing boards for weeks – but now “with good timing” – will include radio, digital outdoor banners and online spots, the trade group said.
The ads in the series hit on consumer frustration with bank fees with the tagline, “Get all of the financial services like the big banks, but without all of the fees.” Consumers are encouraged to go to a new website www.whatsinitforme.org to find a Maryland or DC CU “that’s right for you and see how much better banking can be.”
Meanwhile, Fred Becker, president/CEO of NAFCU, said the original decision by the large banks to start charging debit card fees “was the straw that broke the camel’s back” and that now “it is too little, too late to restore consumer confidence. Simply stated, the damage has been done. It is no surprise that credit unions are enjoying the spotlight and renewed attention about their value proposition—and we expect that to continue.”