This is me closing my Big Six bank account.
I didn't make it in time for Bank Transfer Day on Nov. 5, but for me, it's official: I have moved my money. My banking now takes place at my local credit union! (I actually joined it last month but had to keep the old account open until some scheduled payments went through.)
In contrast to the steely blue-gray interior of Citibank, Community Trust Credit Union has this cool work of art hanging on its wall:
The blurry fingertip you see in the lefthand corner is, uh, completely intentional — you know, to go with the hand motif.
Not that interior decor inspired me to move my money. It's more about the words on the mural, such as "community" and "empowerment." I had long been wondering just how aligned Citibank was with my values, but inertia kept me there. Then came the Occupy movement, which drew attention to the Move Your Money initiative.
And then came a letter from Citibank saying I would be charged $15/month unless I kept a minimum of $6,000 in my combined accounts. To Citibank's credit, when I called to express my displeasure, I was informed that I could switch to a different type of account with only a $1,500 minimum. But by then, it was too late. I was already in the sway of the credit union philosophy.
I should add that I don't believe that all big banks should be bombed off the face of the planet. Clearly they have an important role to play in the world economy. However, I'm happy to contribute, in however small a way, to a greater investment in Main Street rather than Wall Street.
Here's what Community Trust branch manager Carlos Brenes had to say when I asked him what my money would be supporting at the credit union as opposed to Citibank:
We lend out money to the community and to small businesses at a lower rate. We do lots of reinvestment. We go out and help nonprofit organizations do financial counciling, in particular helping youth understand the difference between credit unions and banks, and how payday lenders are really bad in terms of charging really high rates of 300% to 400%. We don't spend on things like advertising campaigns; we keep the money in the community.