Move Your Money From Wall Street to Main Street

A campaign on Facebook and elsewhere has designated November 5, 2011 as “Bank Transfer Day.” Ordinary people are being invited to divest from the Wall Street banks and move their money into local banks and credit unions. The 1% of the US population that controls more than a third of the nation’s wealth will wake up on November 6 and know just how powerful the 99% can be if we act together.

I recently moved my money from one of the big banks to a local one. It’s easy to do:

  • Open a new account in your local bank or credit union
  • Order cheques and a debit card for your new account
  • If you have direct deposit at work (or anywhere else) have your employer redirect your deposit to the new bank. If you pay bills automatically, make sure these all have your new information. Make sure these have all been switched before closing the old account (it can sometimes take a few pay cycles).
  • Transfer your money to your new account
  • Close the old account, following the procedures of that bank. Don’t just withdraw your money and leave the account open—they will charge you fees for an inactive account, fees for a low balance, fees for just about anything they can think of!

Find a local bank or credit union near you at the Web site of the Move Your Money project. You may want to tell the person at your old bank that assists you why you will no longer be their customer. If there is a segment on their form (there was with mine) for the reason you are closing the account, insist that they fill it out. Better yet, write a letter to the branch manager letting them know that you withdrew your money and why.

Why should you move your money?

  • better rates and fewer fees
  • more personal service
  • keep money in your local community
  • increase local economic development—and help create more jobs.
  • take a stand in a system that is unfair, raising your voice for economic justice

There was a public outcry after the Bank of America announced it would start charging its customers $5 a month to get access to their own money using a debit card. It seems that the bigger a bank is, the more fees it charges you!

My community bank charges almost no fees. If I get charged an ATM fee, I get it refunded at the end of the month. More and more community banks and credit unions offer ATM surcharge-free networks. On average, community banks and credit unions charge less in fees. I also found the highest interest on my deposits at my local bank and a local credit union. The tellers and even managers at the branches of my community bank all know me by name, know my profession, and ask about my work when they see me. Local banks and credit unions have higher customer satisfaction ratings than the too big to fail banks

The largest five banks held 13% of US deposits in 1994; today they hold 38%. Because these banks were considered “too big to fail,” they got bailed out using taxpayer money, but never became any more accountable to taxpayers after they crashed the economy and sent many taxpayers into the unemployment lines. The reason they were propped up was supposedly to ensure the flow of money. They continue to use ordinary people’s deposits for risky trade investments, not loans to small businesses, which are the engine of the economy. Local banks and credit unions, on the other hand, do a disproportionate amount of lending to small business owners.

The big Wall Street banks will probably continue to use your deposits for risky, unregulated investments. This is precisely how they crashed the economy in 2008. No bank should be “too big to fail.” If the government continues refusing to break up the big bank monopoly, a united front of ordinary people can achieve a similar effect by withdrawing our money from them.



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