Cutting Edge: Move Your Money

Consumers offer banks a lesson, but will they learn?

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moving moneyWould you like to stick it to big banks? Well, you’re not alone. Apparently, that sentiment has been growing over the last few months as behemoth banks that were bailed out turn around and raise interest rates and cling to loans. In return, consumers are sticking it to “the man,” moving their accounts to community banks and credit unions. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that banks will feel the pinch.

The Move Your Money campaign, developed in part and championed by blogger and political commentator Arianna Huffington of The HuffingtonPost, has been picking up steam with 27,990 becoming fans on the campaign’s Facebook fan page.

But a friend and I had a Twitter conversation about why we cannot support the movement, even though we’d like to. As others chimed in on our public conversation, our quandary was shared. The reality is, the U.S. is a nation of transient people, especially when it comes to Generation X and Y, who are just as likely to move across the country as they are to move across town. My friend and I are both transplants to New York City . Fortunately for us, the seeming ubiquity of a Bank of America or Wells Fargo–here as well as in our home states (him Maryland, me Connecticut)–is just too much to go without.

Don’t get me wrong–there are numerous advantages to taking your business to community banks, as we pointed out in the July 2009 issue of Black Enterprise magazine. Since most community banks avoided the crazy subprime loans their mega-sized brethren were making, many of them are still making loans. A good number of community banks are also offering higher yields and lower fees than their larger competitors, in order to attract deposits.

The Move Your Money Website offers a bank and credit union locator which only requires you to enter a zip code to find the closest financial institution. The closest bank I could find was about a mile away, compared to the three short blocks I travel to my current institution.

The campaign itself, however, is picking up traction.  The Huffington Post says that more than 340,000 searches were performed to find community banks in 16,631 zip codes.

While it is unlikely that the campaign will be a slam dunk in altering banking reform, it may be a boon for community banks that are now receiving widespread attention from consumers disgruntled with their lack of appreciation from the big four. But in a society where the majority of us are “on the go,” this “movement” is just too inconvenient.

What about you? Have you moved your money from a large financial institution to a community bank? If not, what’s stopping you? Do you think the Move Your Money campaign is futile? Respond below and let me know what you think.

Renita Burns is a staff writer at

  • I have recently felt the same about the Big four banks I have yet to move my business from BofA but I totally understand the feeling of being neglected I live in NYC and I’ve been considering going to Carver but it really would be an inconvience I have all 4 of the big four banks right across the street from me.

  • Big Earn

    I have both community banks and large. The two large banks I use are U.S Bank and Wells Fargo. Thats also because i own class B shares of Berkshire Hathaway, which is the largest holder in these banks. If it worked I would be for the community bank sure, but lets not forget the Rothschilds will get paid anyways.

  • We just locked in a lower interest rate on a refinance loan at our credit union. BoA may never miss the interest they were making off of us, but I sure feel better not giving it to them!

  • Shoshana

    I am actually in full support of this movement. I think that as a community and especially as people of color we need to support our own institutions. I have banked at a local credit union my entire life, along with opening a PNC acct once I went away to college (because it was free). I think in general the movement to go back to smaller institutions in general makes sense for us as a community/society as well as the economy. The local movement supports jobs and people you care about, whether its local banking or local agriculture… when weighing pros and cons the local option is always better in the long run. Convenience can’t simply be the answer, and if it is then I hope that you aren’t that person complaining but rather that person defending the bank bail out and other pro-corporation/anti-citizen policy decisions made by our government.

    Though BofA or any other large bank may not feel the pinch just because you move your money- if we all move our money they will feel a pinch. If everyone didn’t do it because they thought it wouldn’t make a difference then it won’t. Movements and reform happen one step, one person at a time. It starts with me.

  • My money is in a Black-owned bank in Atlanta GA, Citizens Trust. Everybody knows who I am from the president on down. It’s a little inconvenient, but I make the sacrifice and pass the big banks that are in my neighborhood. When I have major deposits, I go to the bank. For smaller deposits, I mail them and have never had a problem. Everything in between is electronic transfers.

  • Georgia

    I honestly have never had an account with a big bank. At age sixteen, I opened my first savings account at a local bank in my community and seven years later I am still with them. I have given a lot of thought in the past to switching to a bigger commercialized bank, but the fees at the bigger banks have persuaded me to remain with my local bank. However, I understand the convenience that bigger institutions like Bank Of America offer; there is practically one on every corner.