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CUs accounts attracting many in Wash. state
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (11/19/09)--Washington state residents are moving their accounts to credit unions en masse in response to better rates, safety and soundness, according to the Washington Credit Union League. During the third quarter of 2009, 173,464 consumers joined one of the state’s 119 financial cooperatives, according to Callahan & Associates, a Washington, D.C.-based firm, specializing in financial publications, software development, strategic planning, and investment management for credit unions. This latest tally shatters all previous quarterly membership increases and brings Washington state’s total credit union membership to 2,795,489, or 42% of the state’s estimated population of 6,668,200, the league said. “Media reports on problematic banks seemingly have made Washingtonians suspicious of profit-driven financial institutions, especially big Wall Street banks,” said league President/CEO John Annaloro. “Ten percent yearly growth was unheard of prior to this extraordinary migration to credit unions.” The next highest new membership total was 4.2%, which occurred in 2008 when 103,859 consumers joined a Washington-based not-for-profit credit union. This year’s third quarter membership summary brings 2009’s total new membership to 240,485. Some of the public’s move to credit unions may be the result of media reports on studies, such as a recent Pew Charitable Trust study. It found that credit cards offered by credit unions provide their members with more reasonable annual percentage rates, cash advance fees, late fees and other fees than banks, the league said. The report also found that penalty fees at the largest credit unions are nearly half those assessed by larger banks. Recognizing that it would see record-setting membership growth this year, the Washington league celebrated its 75th anniversary by honoring the 75,000th new member of 2009 with a prize package worth more than $2,300. The winner, Kristin Henkus, joined Seattle Metropolitan CU in July because she was dissatisfied with the new management of her bank. Since then, she has discovered many more reasons to stay. “It’s a nicer community feeling,” she said. “[Banking at a credit union] is really convenient because you can use everyone’s ATMs; you don’t get charged.”
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