The Credit-Union Stampede

By:  Jason Zweig

Bank Transfer Day seems to be getting some traction.

The Credit Union National Association reports that more than 650,000 customers have transferred some $4.5 billion from big banks to credit unions in the last four weeks.  Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives that often charge lower fees than giant banks - and they appear to be benefiting from the backlash against debit-card fees and other nuisance charges that some of the biggest commercial banks tried imposing earlier this fall.

Of course, $4.5 billion is only a 0.36% nick in the $12.5 trillion in total assets at commercial banks.

And, while credit unions are not-for-profit, they're certainly not being passive in the face of opportunity. They've been making an aggressive marketing push to turn consumers who are seething with anger into new customers - as these messages in New Jersey,Louisiana and Washington state show.

The money isn't just spontaneously showing up on the doorstep of the credit unions.  They're actively grabbing for it.  There's nothing wrong with that, mind you, but it's a reminder that these not-for-profits aren't completely selfless.  They're marketing organizations, too.