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Credit unions pounce after banks raise fees


At Lafayette Federal Credit Union in Kensington, officials wasted no time in taking aim at Bank of America’s decision to levy fees on debit cards. Within two weeks of the megabank’s Sept. 29 decree, the credit union placed ads in area newspapers telling consumers:

“There’s no reason to pay your bank, when we’re here to pay you, with: no-fee checking and debit card, no minimum balance requirements . . . dividends paid quarterly.”

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If the list of incentives didn’t do the trick, the bank added a scowling twentysomething cutting up a debit card, below the looming question: “$#%&’n mad? You should be!”

The provocative campaign seemed to strike a chord with consumers as Lafayette FCU has recorded a 50 percent increase in online applications this month, according to marketing director Christina Madaras.

Lafayette FCU, like many credit unions in the Washington area, is capi­tal­izing on the growing anti-bank sentiment that’s sweeping the country.

Officials at Bank of America declined to comment for this article. The bank may have garnered the most attention, but it is not the only institution using fee hikes to offset declines in revenue. SunTrust has also added fees on debit cards, while Citi­bank has phased out its free checking accounts.


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