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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Monday, Dec. 10, 2012

Credit union membership approaching 100 million



I've long believed that the quality of banking gets better the smaller you go. Now the latest customer satisfaction survey from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) confirms that belief.

The nation's Big 4 banks -- Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo and Citibank -- all received abysmal scores in the ACSI. Small local community banks got a decent score, while credit unions got an even better score.

Credit unions really rocked the house. In fact, their score was the highest ever earned by just about any company in any industry ever surveyed by ACSI at any time.

Does that mean every credit union is great? No! They're not a monolith. They vary by quality and size. You can have a great experience or a bad one, but as a general rule, it will be a much better experience at a credit union or a small local community bank than at a giant monster mega-bank. Leave the big banks for the masochists.

Membership in credit unions is growing great guns. The latest estimate from a banking analyst puts it at nearly 100 million members.

Meanwhile, England has a new law that requires migration of customer accounts when you change banks. If you want to move from one institution to another, you don't have to change all your bill pays; it all just auto migrates because people use central clearinghouses, like we do with ACH here in America, and that's how transactions occur.

Wouldn't customer service improve here if bankers had more to fear because you might be heading to the exits?

Remember that inverse relationship: The smaller you go, the better the service you will get, as a general rule. It's your money. You choose whether to suffer or benefit.