Added bank fees prompt customers’ flight to credit unions

The Bank of America has announced plans to add a $5 fee next year for debit-card purchases. For some customers, it’s the last straw.

Organizers connected with the Occupy Wall Street movement are urging the customers of large banks to withdraw their savings and deposit their cash in credit unions on Nov. 4.

A representative of the American Heritage Federal Credit Union in Philadelphia said he has noticed customers joining the credit union since the Bank of America announcement.

The recent uptick is part of a larger trend, as the bank’s membership increased 20 percent in August and September.

Most credit unions offer free checking, no debit-card fees and no annual fees. Mick Hilling, a vice president with American Heritage Federal Credit Union, said the recession is making credit unions look better and better.

“Immediately after the Bank of American announcement that they were charging an annual fee for their debit card, we started seeing people come in,” Hilling said. “I think as the recession rolls along and people are looking for more ways to save money, they are realizing that for-profit institutions, the big banks especially, are not pro-consumer like we are.”

America Heritage Federal Credit Union is one of many credit unions in the city.

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