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Seattle Times news librarian Gene Balk crunches the numbers

December 11, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Credit unions have surpassed BofA in Seattle

If you haven’t switched away from one of the big banks, chances are you’ve at least considered it.  Many Americans, fed up with hidden fees and excessive charges, have said goodbye to the big banks in favor of credit unions in recent years.  Here in Seattle, that shift has been dramatic.

28 percent of Seattle-area households bank primarily with a credit union now, up from 21.9 percent in 2008, according to market data firm Scarborough Research.  And, as the bar chart below illustrates, credit unions have surpassed Bank of America to become the No. 1 banking choice in the Seattle area:(move your cursor over the bars to see the data).

 

[do action="bankingtrend"][/do]

Source: Scarborough Research

The credit unions’ gains have come at the expense of the two biggest banks, Chase and Bank of America.  Since Chase acquired WaMu in 2008, its share of Seattle-area customers who use it as a primary bank has nosedived by 31 percent compared with when it was still WaMu.  Bank of America has only done a little bit better than Chase with customer retention.  Interestingly, while Chase and Bank of America have seen sharp declines, the big banks that are not quite as big — Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank — have increased their share of the Seattle market.

Many of the regional banks have gained ground — KeyBank being the big exception.  And the number of people who do not have a primary bank, or are “unbanked” — that is, have no bank account at all — has climbed since 2008.

The big story here, though, is the rise of credit unions.  Despite the hassle of switching banks, lots of Seattleites have made the effort. What about you — are you among the many who have switched to a credit union as your primary bank in the past couple of years?  Or are you staying put with one of the big banks?  Take the poll, and feel free to sound off in the comments.

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Follow me on twitter @genebalk

Comments | More in Market Research | Topics: Banks, Finances

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