Making The Switch

Monday, November 7, 2011 - 10:36am

How many people took part in "Bank Transfer Day"?

It may be awhile before we know just how many Americans participated in Saturday's Bank Transfer Day, when customers were encouraged to move their money to credit unions to protest rising bank fees.

Credit unions already had a banner month in October.

"They picked up 650,000 customers, which, just to put it in perspective, is more than they gained in the entire prior year," points out "Today Show" financial editor Jean Chatzky.

Even though the biggest banks are backing off debit card fees, millions are still expected to switch because they expect the banks to find other fees to raise.

Still, financial experts like Chatzky say you should move cautiously.

"You need to make sure that, especially if you're an online customer, that you do it correctly," she warns.

Consumer Reports' Norma Garcia says open your new account with a small deposit, just enough to avoid fees for a low balance.

Then organize your direct deposits and automatic payments that come out of the old account.

"What we don't recommend is going to your bank with a paper bag and say put in all my money from my account I'm going somewhere else, that's not a safe way to move your money. Do it electronically and with a process," she says.

Garcia says to leave some money in your old account until confirmation of the switch-over to the new one.

"The good news is there are a lot of options out there and those smaller institutions are eager for the business and they are making good deals," she says..

Finally, Garcia reminds you to get written confirmation that the old account is closed.

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