Polish credit unions crowded on Bank Transfer Day

November 5 was Bank Transfer Day, a day in which bank customers unhappy with high fees imposed by big financial corporations, moved their accounts to smaller banks or credit unions.

“Indeed, since Monday we have seen bigger crowds,” said Marian Ponanta, vice president of marketing and PR at the Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union, who added that one client moved a $30,000 account to PSFCU from another bank.

Wawel Bank, which has branches in Garfield and Wallington, N.J., also noticed increased interest among potential customers, who were coming in to inquire about the terms of opening and maintaining accounts there.

“Moving an account from bank to bank is not so simple and requires time,” says Bogdan Chmielewski, vice president of Wawel Bank. “It is especially complicated if the customers use direct deposit or pay bills directly from the account. In such cases the change may take a couple of days. I believe however, that an increasing number of people will be moving their assets from bigger banks to smaller ones, like ours. Our offer is really great. We don’t charge fees for maintaining a checking account or a debit card. We also offer long hours, which is important for customers,” said Chmielewski.

Like Wawel Bank, PSFCU charges no fees for checking accounts and debit cards. In order to encourage potential customers to move their accounts to the Union, the credit union offered coffee and snacks at their branches.

“The most important thing is that people are beginning to be aware of how big banks are treating them, how much they charge and how much people lose by doing business with the big ones,” Ponanta said.

“Naturally, not everyone will all of a sudden move their accounts to smaller banks in one day, but the process has already started and will last,” added Chmielewski.

PSFCU currently has over 74,000 members. Its assets are estimated at $1.4 billion. “Our goal is not exploitation, but helping our members, who are after all owners of the Union. It needs to be remembered that PSFCU spends a lot of  money on dividends, scholarships and grants for schools and parishes,” Ponanta said.

Wawel Bank, which was established in 1920 and is one of the oldest Polish-American financial institutions in the New York area, has 6,000 clients.

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