Bank Transfer Day: a protest ... and marketing campaign
Bank Transfer Day is being used by some regional banks and credit unions to gain customers. Among the Bank Transfer Day moves: extended hours and cash bonuses.
NEW YORK — Bank Transfer Day -- the protest movement urging Americans to take their business out of big banks on Saturday and put it into credit unions and local banks -- is being used as a marketing opportunity by some.
A handful of regional banks and credit unions, even some that are publicly traded and not exactly Mom and Pop establishments, have taken to Twitter to promote themselves as alternatives to the biggest national banks that are the target of the protest.
Credit unions nationwide have already seen demand for hundreds of thousands of new accounts since late September, as people respond to the call made by a Los Angeles gallery owner who was frustrated with high fees.
``I've been shocked at how many people have stood up alongside me,'' Kristen Christian told Reuters earlier this week of her upstart movement.
While Bank of America's now-aborted plan for a $5 monthly debit card fee drove much of that impulse to switch, the Occupy Wall Street movement has helped draw attention to the issue as well.
The ideals behind Transfer Day -- stick it to Wall Street, give the little guy your money, and so on -- dovetail with the central themes of the Occupy protests. Sensing a wave of populist frustration, some banks are trying to get in on the action.
``Thinking of making the switch? Use our switch kit,'' Webster Financial Corp's Webster Bank said in a Twitter message on Friday, one that even made use of the movement's ''BankTransferDay'' hashtag.
A Webster spokeswoman said the bank started an advertising campaign earlier this week to pitch its no-fee debit card services, and that it used Twitter and Facebook to augment those marketing programs.
Some credit unions and co-ops, like Long Island's Bethpage Federal Credit Union and Texas's Firstmark Credit Union, advertised extended hours on Saturday for those interested in making the change.
Others are going for an even more attractive offer than extra hours -- extra money. Stanford Federal Credit Union is offering a $100 bonus to the first 100 people to open checking accounts on Nov. 5.
For some banks, though, Bank Transfer Day matters less than simply convincing people to make a change, no matter the day.
Cambridge Savings Bank, a Massachusetts lender with more than $2 billion in assets, posted a Twitter message on Oct. 28 urging people to come in and switch.
``Why wait until November 5th?'' it said on its @CSBinspired account.
The protesters are targeting banks like Bank of America , JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo for mass withdrawals on Saturday.''