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Many turn to Iowa credit unions ahead of ‘Bank Transfer Day’

The social media-sparked “Bank Transfer Day” won’t officially be underway until Saturday, but credit unions in Iowa and throughout the nation are already benefiting from the initiative.

Olivia Maiers, spokeswoman for the Iowa Credit Union League, reports that members have gain 7,000 new members and $49 million in new deposits since the beginning of September. Nationally, credit unions have gain 650,000 customers and added $4.5 billion in new accounts during that same time, according to the Credit Union National Association.

The national organization adds that four out of every five of their affiliated credit unions have reported the increase is due to attempts by larger banks to raise customer fees, the Bank Transfer Day movement or a combination of both.

Bank Transfer Day organizer Kristen Christian explained the logic behind the movement on the group’s Facebook page.

“I started this because I felt like many of you do. I was tired — tired of the fee increases, tired of not being able to access my money when I need to, tired of them using what little money I have to oppress my brothers & sisters. So I stood up. I’ve been shocked at how many people have stood up alongside me.” Christian wrote. “Me closing my account all on my lonesome wouldn’t have made a difference to these fat cats. But each of you standing up with me…they can’t drown out the noise we’ll make.”

Big banks like Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank have also taken flak for attempting to impose additions fees on customers who use debt cards, although many of the banks have withdrawn their plans due to public outcry.

On Saturday two of the larger banks will be targeted by members of the Occupy Iowa movement in Des Moines as part of “Bank Transfer Day.” The individuals plan to demonstrate at the Ingersoll Avenue Wells Fargo and Bank of America locations, and The Iowa Independent will have coverage of the event.

Credit unions are member-owned and non-profit; they typically have fewer fees than corporate banks. Credit unions across the country, including some in Iowa, have been offering special promotions and extending hours in preparation for Bank Transfer Day, CUNA said.

“Our struggling economy is not the disease, it’s the symptom,” according to one such campaign. ”There is mounting evidence to prove that big banks with their profit-at-all-costs agenda are actually making our collective disease worse by systematically making choices that undermine the efforts of regulators and ordinary people like us to make changes and get back to a state of health.”

The ICUL posted “Four Tips for a Smooth Bank Transfer Day.” The tips include moving accounts in advance of the Saturday, Nov. 5, date if possible and opening a the new account before closing the old one, to allow for electronic transfer. If individuals must wait until Saturday, they may want to arrive earlier since interest suggests there could be lines. Finally, keep a little cash in your pocket for expenses while all the details are ironed out.

(Jon Collins and Marcos Restrepo contributed to this report.)

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