Turns Out Not That Many Consumers Switched To Credit Unions On National Bank Transfer Day

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[credit provider=”Daniel Goodman / Business Insider”]

After all the National Bank Transfer Day hype, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) estimated 650,000 people moved from big banks to credit unions in October. But it was way off. 

The real figure was less than one-third as much, the agency is now reporting.

Only 214,000 consumers decided to shift to credit unions that month, they found.

“I think the enthusiasm… and the recognition [credit unions] were getting in all of the national media just created an exuberance that resulted in numbers looking a little better than they were,” Alan Theriault, president of CU Financial Services, a consulting firm for credit unions, told American Banker.

Bill Hampel, the chief economist at CUNA, blames the overestimation on flawed and rushed information gathering techniques.

Hampel told American Banker some of the questions in a survey sent to new credit union customers were not specific enough and left respondents open to interpret them in different ways. The survey also did not indicate a specific end date.

The credit union association also originally reported it added a whopping $4.5 billion in savings, but now it says savings actually dropped by $400 million in October.

The group’s October numbers were hurt because the month ended on a Monday rather than a Friday, the typical payday, Hampel added. He also noted it’s possible that credit unions saw 400,000 new checking accounts opened by existing members.

It should also be noted that 214,000 new customers in one month still proves significant considering that’s a little more than one-third of the new customers credit unions acquired in all of 2010.

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