Bank Transfer Day: Gaggle of New Members Flock to West Coast CUs
Credit unions in California and Oregon enjoyed a surge of new members on Bank Transfer Day, as well as on the days leading up to Nov. 5. To encourage new member signings, some CUs kept branches open during extended hours while others marketed Bank Transfer Day promotions.
The $5.3 billion San Diego County Credit Union gained 362 new checking account members on Nov. 5 and more than 850 in the first week of November, President/CEO Teresa Halleck said. Compared to September’s membership growth numbers, membership grew by 62% more in October, bringing its total member count to 221,470 at the end of the month.
“Bank Transfer Day was a huge success for San Diego County Credit Union,” Halleck said. “Our highest account openings were attributable to dissatisfied Bank of America customers, with Chase Bank and Wells Fargo following closely behind.”
The CU kicked off a free checking account promotion, “Shred Your Big Bank Debit Card,” on Oct. 31, that encouraged members to open a free checking account at San Diego County CU and post photos of themselves shredding their old bank debit card on the CU’s Facebook page for a chance to win $1,000. The promotion runs through Nov. 30.
“I suspect that we will continue to see account growth through the end of the year as many big bank customers evaluate their banking relationships,” Halleck said.
The $1.1 billion North Island Credit Union, also in San Diego, saw increased activity throughout the week leading up to Bank Transfer Day, CEO John Tippets said. Tippets spoke on camera to a local news station on Nov. 5, along with a new member who had just completed an ATM transaction.
“I’ve been making a point to say that the real money saving opportunity for consumers is to bring over their credit cards and car loans,” Tippets said. “I think what matters most is the impact of the message and what happens over time.”
The $859 million First Entertainment Credit Union in Hollywood, Calif., received 99 new members on Nov. 5, despite having just five of its 10 branches open that day due to logistical issues or restricted access at its other five, said Roy MacKinnon, vice president of marketing. In September, the CU averaged 17 new members on Saturdays, he said.
The 59,000-member First Entertainment CU typically gets 500 to 600 new members a month, MacKinnon said. But that number jumped to 1,042 in October and 350 so far in November.
“At that rate, it is likely we will have another 1,000-plus new- member month,” MacKinnon said. “We hope this is just the beginning of a big consumer move to credit unions and that the momentum will remain strong.”
The $2.5 billion Wescom CU in Pasadena, Calif., reported numerous new memberships in the days leading up to Nov. 5 and said its number of new members doubled Saturday compared with a typical Saturday showing.
“The Bank Transfer Day momentum started early for us, with new memberships up all week,” said Susan McCready, senior vice president of branch administration. “Some of our branches were busier than others, but overall we saw an increase in new accounts. We are looking forward to establishing meaningful and long-term relationships with our new members.”
According to CUNA, California-based credit unions have seen the biggest surge in membership, with around 90,000 new members and $624 million in new deposits since Sep. 29.
The Portland, Ore.-based, 223,520-member, $3 billion OnPoint Community Credit Union said it welcomed 256 new accounts on Nov. 5, four times its Saturday average of 65 new account openings. The CU also took in $26 million in new deposits on Bank Transfer Day.
Throughout the week beginning Oct. 31, OnPoint averaged 225 new accounts per day, which is nearly a 100% increase compared to the same time frame in 2010, the CU said.
The Springfield, Ore.-based Northwest Community Credit Union, which serves 71,000 members throughout the state, also shared positive post-Bank Transfer Day news.
The $674.3 million CU signed up 85 new members on Nov. 5. On the comparable Saturday in November 2010, 20 new members joined the credit union, CEO Matt Purvis said. Throughout October 2011, Northwest Community CU received three times as many new members as it did in October 2010, Purvis said.
“We saw significant increases in new member numbers throughout the week, compared to on those same days in 2010,” he said.
The credit union’s branches were open during extended hours on Nov. 5 and drew an enthusiastic crowd, Purvis noted.
“We heard some stories of people walking in and saying, ‘We’re here for Bank Transfer Day,’” Purvis said. “It was in a real sense a celebratory atmosphere.”