However, Barone and Irving stress the importance of making sure your credit union is insured by the NCUA (National Credit Union Administration). "This is the government-backed agency, just like the FDIC, and your deposits are insured up to $250,000, just like the FDIC," says Irving.
Large financial institutions are banking on the fact that some consumers would rather stay put than spend the time opening new accounts and transferring their money, according to Irving. She suggests starting with a credit union checking or savings account so you can start switching payroll deposits and automatic transfers while waiting for checks from your other bank account to clear and your new credit card to arrive.
As for Engel, she's happy with her decision to join a credit union and says moving her money wasn't a huge hassle. "Once I was sure that all of the checks written on the bank's account had cleared, I went into the bank, withdrew the remaining balance in the accounts I had there, and told the teller that I was opening an account at a credit union—and why," she says.
Even if hundreds of thousands of other consumers follow suit, Barone predicts that it will have little impact on big banks because much of their deposits come from large corporations, not individuals. "Don't do it out of spite," he says. "Do it because it's better for you as a consumer."