A call to credit unions and cash

A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don’t need it.
~Bob Hope

I’m sure you’ve probably heard of the Occupy Wall Street protests by now. And despite the media’s claims to the contrary, I’m pretty sure you have a good idea as to what they’re going on about.

Well, it was only a matter of time before somebody decided to attempt to stick it to the banks. And while the “99%’s” ability to put a dent in the banking world’s power is debatable, I’ve felt the need to vocalize my support.

I swear I’ve spoken about credit unions before, but a quick search tells me that I may have neglected the topic. (Midga correctly informs me that I have.) Yes, there is a call for people to close out their bank accounts and move to a credit union by November fifth. I’d go for it, except I did it months ago.

The biggest thing for me is that credit unions are local entities, not corporate behemoths. My credit union covers a good portion of the state and that’s it. In order for me to have an account, I have to be a resident of this particular town (at least for the branch I utilize).

Credit unions are also not-for-profit entities, at least here in the US. This is why rates at credit unions are better than at banks. Credit unions aren’t funding some CEO’s private jet. I also doubt they have the clout to seriously influence politics, at least individually.

If nothing else, switch over to give yourself a few more bucks in the bank. I, personally, have found my savings account interest increase quite significantly. In fact, I think it doubled. The fees? What fees? Well, there are fees, but after dealing with Wells Fargo the credit union’s fees seem like a mere slap on the wrist.

Some say that the banks won’t feel it. That they don’t care about people like me, who have low balances and only five grand in the savings account. But I say that if the bank doesn’t feel my loss, a credit union will certainly feel my gain. Sixty bucks at Wal-mart doesn’t mean shit. Sixty bucks at your local mom-n-pop means a great deal.

But on to the thing that Bank Transfer Day isn’t mentioning…the use of cash.

Apparently Bank Transfer Day was started because of anger at new bank fees on debit cards. The banks say it was a result of a new bill that limited the amount they could charge a merchant per transaction…down to 24 cents from 44, according to Wikipedia. FORTY-FOUR CENTS. PER TRANSACTION. Think about that next time you charge something that’s just a buck. FORTY-FOUR CENTS. (Well, TWENTY-FOUR CENTS now.) Plus, no doubt, a percentage of the transaction, too. The banks say they’re losing money to the tune of five bucks per person per month.

Well, if you can’t leave the banks or even if you have, I encourage you to use cash more often. I’ve discussed this on numerous occasions. I love using cash. If a loss of twenty cents per transaction hurts them badly enough to institute fees, then imagine what making only one or two debit/credit card transactions a month (if that) feels like. I use my debit card so infrequently that I’ve often joked “Oh, shit, they’re gonna put a hold on my card…because I used it.”

I wish I could advocate getting rid of your debit card if you’re going to be experiencing fees. Certainly, it’s an option if you carry a credit card for those days in which you find yourself needing to spend money you don’t have in cash RIGHT NOW. But while I don’t like using it, I do enjoy the option of having a debit card on me. I’d rather not go without a debit card entirely, although thanks to my credit card, I could. I’d probably switch to a place that did not charge the fees first.

So there you have it. Switch if you can, but either way, I’d suggest that you start using cash more often if you really want to stick it to the bank.

4 Responses to “A call to credit unions and cash”

  1. 1) Your first link is broken.

    2) https://tinyouroboros.wordpress.com/2010/11/27/shopping-local/

    3) I looked into the interest rates at my local credit union (one of them, anyway), and with a savings account, they offer an APY of 0.25%, which goes up to 0.4% if you have over 25k in the account. Compare this to one of my bank accounts (an online-only bank) which gives me a 1% APY.

    I’ve already been planning to drop my Big Name Bank account at the end of the year (I’ve got automatic rent withdrawls set up through then, and I don’t want to have to deal with changing it), but I’ll likely just set up another savings account with the other bank. Other than the fact that it doesn’t have physical locations (though I don’t have a physical location for my Big Name Bank in this city, either), it’s a rather convenient bank. The customer support is fantastic, too. I’ve called them a few times and they’re amazingly helpful and friendly. I’m not a fan of Corporate Merica, but I do think that some companies still do things right, even after they’ve grown to a decent size.

    I’m also likely going to open an account at the CU, but really just so I can get cash without an ATM fee. After a four-month stint as a Deliverator, I discovered that I like it much better than using a card. It’s easier to tip ;)

  2. :P Thanks for the first two. Things are fixed now.

    And when I signed up for mine, interest was 0.5% if you had over 5k in the savings. I think it may have dropped to 0.4% since then, but it’s still a substantial increase over Wells Fargo’s measly little rate.

    • Well, I did it. I now have an account at the credit union here. I found out, though, that paying my bills through them is going to be a lot easier than I thought…so much so that I’m likely to pull out of my BigBoxBank a lot sooner than I thought…
      They might even be willing to give me a car loan and a credit card. Two things I had thought to be, if not out of my reach, at least extremely difficult to get. Even gave me a copy of my credit report.

      I should have done this mon^h^h^hyears ago.

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