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For cash, principles or both, Utahns ditch bank for credit union

Published November 5, 2011 5:29 pm

Banking • Others open accounts at Mountain America on principle.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Murray • The Oklahoma Land Rush it wasn't.

But Mountain America Credit Union's offer of $125 to open an account Saturday, as part of a national Bank Transfer Day protest, did attract a slow stream of people to its Murray branch, one of 19 statewide that had extended weekend hours for the promotion.

Free money, they acknowledged, was a compelling incentive to open an account.

"I can be bought easily," joked Matt Cragun, 36, an excavation company manager from Murray.

But the ideas behind Bank Transfer Day also played a role in most of the decisions to drive to the branch on a snowy Saturday morning.

"It was a little bit of both actually," said Weston Kubbe, a 32-year-old technical support employee at Unisys. "I saw the ad for $125. That definitely helped the decision making. And I'm tired of the fees with my Chase [Bank] account. I get charged all these fees. It just gets ridiculous."

Kirsten Christian, a 27-year-old gallery owner from Los Angeles, came up with Bank Transfer Day as a way to rebel against a proposal by Bank of America to charge customers $5 a month to use debit cards.

Even though Bank of America backtracked on that decision last week, Tricia Brown, of Sugar House, doesn't believe the idea is dead, not for a second.

"They will eventually do it," said the 51-year-old employee of ARUP Laboratories, noting that "debit cards are all I use. And it's my money. … I'm at a bank I can't stand. They're starting to charge so many fees. So I'm changing."

Sympathy for the populist Occupy Wall Street movement that has arisen against big financial institutions helped inspire Craig Jacobsen, a 26-year-old website developer from Murray, to join the credit union.

"I kind of support Occupy and some of their goals," he said of protesters conducting sit-ins and camp-ins in New York and other cities, including Utah's capital. "This is to show my support."

Bottom line, though, cash is nice. And Kubbe knows just how he's going to use his.

"It's going to help out with Christmas," he said.

mikeg@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sltribmikeg