The early verdict: Bank Transfer Day was a victory for credit unions.
The Credit Union National Association said Tuesday that more than 40,000 people signed up at credit unions on Saturday, representing about $80 million in new savings. The association, which represents most of the country's 7,400 state and federally chartered credit unions, said its estimates were based on a survey it sent to about 1,100 credit unions around the country.
Not all of its members saw a spike, it said, but many reported increases in new account activity leading up to Nov. 5 and throughout October. It also estimated that credit unions made about $90 million in new loans on Saturday, both to new and existing members.
"Since Sept. 29 -- the day Bank of America announced its now-rescinded monthly $5 debit card fee -- average estimated membership increases nationally were around 20,000 new members each day," the industry group said in its release. "On Saturday, consumers doubled the pace."
The Bank Transfer movement started with a Facebook page in early October created by Kristen Christian, a 27-year-old Los Angeles art dealer who got fed up with Bank of America and urged people to move their money from big banks to local credit unions. It caught on.
Mark Cummins, president and CEO of the Minnesota Credit Union Network, said he doesn't have numbers but that he heard from several members, mostly larger credit unions in the Twin Cities, that reported a surge of activity Saturday.
"They had lines of people to come in and open accounts," Cummins said. "It brought people to look at more of a values-based alternative on how they do business."
Harry Carter, president and CEO of TopLine Federal Credit Union in Maple Grove, said the number of new customers the credit union signed up Saturday was 50 percent higher than the average Saturday. Carter wouldn't say how many new accounts that represents.
About half the people opening new accounts volunteered they were coming because of dissatisfaction with their bank, Carter said.
Carter said he was "pleased, and hopeful it continues."
Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683