US citizens edge away from mainstream banks

Survey finds that 11% of Americans who moved their money at the end of 2011 did so because of the Bank Transfer Day campaign

Around 5.6 million Americans are estimated to have moved their money from mainstream banks in the last three months of 2011, according to a financial services research company.

Eleven percent of those moving their money cited the US campaign Bank Transfer Day as their reason for moving, mainly to credit unions. A further 26% of those switching stated that they changed because their bank charged too many fees.

Javelin Strategy & Research surveyed nearly 6,000 people to produce the figures at a time when a number of initiatives around the world are encouraging people to move their money to more ethical banks.

In the three-month period recorded, nearly three times as many Americans took their funds out of large banks than during the previous 90-day period, according to Javelin.

Bank Transfer Day was officially on 5 November 2011 in the US, but is an ongoing initiative encouraging the public to transfer their cash out of big banks to credit unions, which are already more popular in the US than the UK.

The initiative was a response to what critics regarded as aggressive fees that big banks planned to roll out, notably Bank of America’s decision to charge debit card users a $5 monthly fee and Wells Fargo’s $3 monthly charge. These plans have since been withdrawn because of consumer pressure.