This story all started for me back in 1984 when I had just returned to my job at Boeing after a 16 month layoff. I bounced a check. In response my large commercial bank I'd been with for years decided I should be treated as a 2nd class customer, and it revoked my ability to use any ATM's. The next day I went in and closed my account and opened one at Boeing Employees Credit Union. I've been there ever since. A rule change allowed BECU to offer membership to all residents of Washington State. Now BECU is the 4th largest credit union in the U.S.
Price fixing seems to an accepted feature in large commercial banking. Remember when all the big banks imposed ATM fees over a short period through price fixing. In recent years Big Banks have gotten used to getting a 20% return on their money, and now that Dodd Frank has slashed their exorbitant merchant fees we're seeing a new round of increased customer fees as the big banks desperately seek to maintain their 20% returns at the expense their customers. Before the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act big banks routinely made closer to 10 to 12 percent return on their money.
If enough of the big banks' customers vote with their feet this new wave of bank price fixing could backfire, and they might have to go back to accepting a less greedy rate of return on their money.
Customers ditch bank fees, flock to credit unions
Now it's known as BECU, and those initials are experiencing a major boom. Just since September 30, more than 7,000 new members have joined, and more than 700 joined on Wednesday alone.
With new federal regulations on banks, many of the bigger names including Bank of America are raising fees. Bank of America recently announced that it wil start charging $5 a month to use a debit card.
One Bank of America user said despite being a long-time and loyal customer, he's looking to switch to BECU over a range of fees.
Overall, the Northwest Credit Union Association says their member institutions report business is up 20 to 25 percent over last year.
But it's not just credit unions seeing growth. The Washington State Bankers Association reports deposits are also up at community and regional commercial banks.
While this is a local story, I suspect this must be a nationwide phenomenon. If this stream of departing customers turns into a flood the big banks will have no choice but to scale back their excessive greed. With 50 Million customers Bank of America can probably afford to lose 2 or 3 million of them if they can more than make it up by squeezing higher fees out of their remaining customers. But if B of A is looking at losing 12 or 13 million customers, than that's a whole new ball game.
If you still do your banking with a larger commercial bank I justr have on question.