We're all familiar with the Occupy movement by now, right? We all know that, generally speaking, big banking is the common enemy. These “too big to fail” institutions that can be blamed (to varying degrees, depending on who you talk to) for the crumble of the economy and housing market. These huge corporations that charge fees to consumers at every turn and then give themselves six-figure bonuses.
Tomorrow, November 5, 2011, is Move Your Money Day. We started moving ours today; after doing a bit of research, we joined Stanford FCU, for which we were eligible thanks to my father-in-law's alumni status and my mother-in-law's existing membership. I walked into a branch this morning and opened a checking and savings account in about 10 minutes, while Max played happily on a colorful rug nearby, looking at picture books and playing with blocks. It was that easy and that fast.
I was vaguely familiar with credit unions; but all I knew was that I needed a membership, and that there were (are) specific requirements to be eligible at the various ones. I was concerned about the lack of locations to use; I hate ATM fees just about more than anything in the world, and because of my occasional freelance work, I have random paper checks that I need to deposit; our paychecks might be direct deposited, but those various ones from time to time? I need a branch where I can put them!
The things I learned in doing my research: The membership eligibility isn't that difficult, and you're bound to find something that works for you! Living or working in a certain county or city, being related to or even just referred by a current member… all I needed was my mother-in-law's member number and I was all set to open my account! The ATM options are pretty significant, AND several of the FCUs I looked into will reimburse ATM fees from other banks anyway, so they aren't charging you more just to get your own money at your own convenience. For depositing paper checks, there's even a network of other credit unions that will accept my deposits for me! Yes, there might be a 2 day wait for the funds to appear in my account, but if it's that urgent for the money to appear, I can go the 15 minutes out of my way and deposit it at the actual branch.
And? I get to design my own new debit card! I love my credit card that has a photo of the 3 of us in our Ren Faire garb, so I'm thinking I'll have to stick with the costume theme and get myself a nice pirate-y debit card to go with it! 🙂
If you're thinking about changing, you can use FindABetterBank.com, the tool at MoveYourMoneyProject.info or just ask your friends! I've been surprised by how many friends of mine have told me their pro-credit union stories both in real life and on Facebook, since I've started talking about us moving our money.
I walked out of my new bank this morning a happy customer… probably about the same amount of happy as I'll be when I walk out of another bank as a former customer, sometime next week. There were more new credit union accounts opened in October 2011 than in all of 2010. That's saying something. Will you be among them?