MADISON, Wis. (10/24/11)--Consumer unrest over high bank fees helped put International Credit Union Day (ICU Day) on the media map this year, and some credit unions adapted their activities to convert accounts from banks as Bank Transfer Day Nov. 5 nears.
With consumers agitated about high bank fees as Bank Transfer Day nears, International Credit Union Day received more media converge than usual. Chippewa Eagle FCU, Mt. Pleasant, Mich., celebrated by offering its members cake. The credit union also paid the $5 minimum deposit for anyone who opened an account on ICU Day. (Photo provided by Chippewa Eagle FCU)
"Thanks to the Occupy Wall Street movement and big bank bail outs, credit unions and economic democracy, there's never been a better year to celebrate International Credit Union Day," was the opening sentence of an article on Yahoo! News.
"Unlike commercial mega-banks, credit unions are not-for-profit organizations," the article explained. "Credit unions answer to their customers not to stockholders. Unlike banks who divvy their earnings in the form of dividends, earnings are returned to members in the form of lower loan rates, higher interest on deposits, and lower fees."
The Credit Union National Association considers credit unions to be "economic democracy," since each member of the credit union has one vote regardless of the member's balance, the article said.
Among the ways credit unions celebrated ICU Day on Thursday:
- Hershey FCU (HFCU), Hummelstown, Pa., provided refreshments and snacks to members who visited the credit union's three branch locations. A special gift was given to each member who attended the celebration, and everyone had a chance at winning an MP3 player and a $25 VISA gift card at each branch location. HFCU employees also collected donations during the day to benefit Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.
- With a budget of $150 dollars, Laura Eblen, branch manager of Central Missouri Community CU, and her staff performed 75 random acts of kindness throughout the town of Richmond, Mo. Central Missouri Central CU staff spend the day buying lunch, snacks, flowers, lots of coffee and providing transportation for their neighbors.
- Each branch of Amplify CU, based in Austin, Texas, celebrated a different culture. The branches offered food and drinks, giveaways, activities and music.
- Horizon FCU, Williamsport, Pa., served grab-and-go snacks representing a different country different each day of week. Treats included Italian biscotti, French eclairs, German pretzels and Chinese fortune cookies. On Friday the credit union hosted first chili cookoff to benefit the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.
- Timberland FCU, DuBois, Pa., took up a collection from members to fight breast cancer. Employees donned pink and jeans for a donation to the cause. Employees offered personal finance tips to members to help them improve their credit, protect their identity, and financial literacy.
- Chippewa Eagle FCU, Mt. Pleasant, Mich., celebrated with donut holes and cider in the morning and pizza, cake and soda in the afternoon on ICU Day. The credit union paid the $5 minimum deposit for anyone that opened an account on ICU Day. Branch visitors received an ICU Day cup with a brochure, pen and candy. Children were also provided with pictures to color, which will be on display throughout October.
- Annie Karr of Kansas City (Mo.) CU, appeared on WDAF television describing the difference between banks and credit unions in anticipation of Bank Transfer Day.