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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Another Reason Dems Should Join Credit Unions

Feeling frustrated with your bank or disgusted with megabanks in general? Danielle Douglas has an alternative to consider in her WaPo article “Credit Unions Pounce After Banks Raise Fees.”
Douglas quotes from an ad placed by a Kensington, MD credit union: “There’s no reason to pay your bank, when we’re here to pay you, with: no-fee checking and debit card, no minimum balance requirements . . . dividends paid quarterly.”
Douglas explains further,

In the past month, the National Association of Federal Credit Unions recorded a 350 percent increase in Web traffic to its online credit union locator, CUlookup.com. The portal matches visitors with institutions they might be eligible to join based on affiliations, such as school, employer or church.
A Facebook group has designated Nov. 5 “Bank Transfer Day,” calling on customers to move their money into credit unions to avoid soaring fees. The event has gained momentum in the blogosphere and spilled into the mainstream media, drawing attention to an often-ignored sector of the financial industry.

Douglas may have overstated the case in saying that credit unions lack extensive ATMs. Many credit unions, for example, are part of the no-fee CO-OP ATM network, which has more than 28,000 CO-OP ATMs nation-wide, more than any major bank. Bank of America, for example, reportedly has an estimated 18,000 ATMs.
Rank and file Dems may be interested to know how banks spend their depositors’ money on politics. According to Opensecrets.org’s most recent analysis of FEC data for the 2012 election cycle, so far Bank of America has given 69 percent of its political donations to Republicans and Wells Fargo has doled out 65 percent of its political contributions to GOP candidates. The American Bankers Association has distributed 73 percent of its political donations to Republicans this cycle, while The Credit Union National Association has so far given 55 percent of its political contributions for this cycle to Republicans (but gave more to Dems in ’08 and ’10).
Good stats for Dems to keep in mind, leading up to Nov. 5, “Bank Transfer Day.”

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