Tired of the mega banks? Switch to an alternative.

For quite some time I have considered dropping Bank of America as my banking institution. The recent news that the company planned to charge many customers a $5 monthly fee for debit card use, and my local bank confirming that I would be one of those customers, had me looking at alternatives.

Credit unions sound as if they might be what I am looking for in a bank. Some credit unions even have agreements with other corporations so that the use of their ATMs would not result in usage fees. A good number of local credit unions I looked into seemed as if changing to a new place to move my money around would not be the hassle I feared.

Now Bank of America has had input from enough pissed-off customers such as myself that they have reportedly backed off on charging the fee. I use the word “reportedly” because I have not asked the company myself. I would not be satisfied until I receive an unequivical answer from the bank that “no, they are not going to charge me the fee.”

But it is too late. I know Bank of America will find some other way to try to screw me and their other customers. And the company has infuriated me over their imaginative online bookkeeping and high overdraft charges to the point that I can’t take their smug method of operation any longer.

Other banks in the country which also tried to sneak in fees have likewise changed their minds due to the voice of the consumer being heard. I expect a good many more voices will continue to be heard in the weeks and months to come even though many banks backed off their plans to squeeze in fees.

“Based on the responses of a nationwide survey of 5,000 credit unions, the credit union advocacy group Credit Union National Assn. estimates that at least 650,000 consumers across the nation have joined credit unions since Sept. 29 (the day Bank of America unveiled its now-rescinded $5 monthly debit card fee).” This from a release via PR Newswire for Journalists. “Also during that time, CUNA estimates that credit unions have added $4.5 billion in new savings accounts, likely from the new members and existing members shifting their funds.”

Bill Cheney, president and CEO of CUNA, said consumers will on average “will save about $70 a year in fewer or no fees, lower rates on loans and higher return on savings.”

Not surprisingly, credit unions across the country are taking advantage of the swing toward these institutions with advertising, e-mail blasts, making information accessible through the CUNA’s Website aSmarterChoice.org and by extending business hours at local credit unions this Saturday, Nov. 5. A grassroots effort has made Saturday “Bank Transfer Day” with organizers telling consumers to switch their accounts to credit unions or community banks on that day.

I remember when I first started banking as a young civilian just out of the Navy. I had banked with a credit union for the time I was on shore duty but I never had enough money in my account to really think much about it. At the first couple of banks I used, I recall the days of going in and flirting with the cute tellers or even just showing up and waiting a few minutes before the bank president called me in to approve a loan. But the good old days, they are no more.

Perhaps I will not make my switch to a credit union this Saturday, but I do predict it will be soon. First I want to get a feeler out as to which is the best for me. Since our consumer revolt has kept Bank of America and some of the other institutions at bay, I feel there is a little time. Still, I know that large banks will raise some kind of fee so their chief executives do not want for the best jet to scoot around on or the best resort in which to stay. Personally, I am just tired of fighting with those mega banks.