Should I move to a credit union or a smaller local bank?

Credit unions say they're seeing more customers switching over / Ashley Knight

Retailers pay banks so much per swipe of a debit card. Recently, the amount banks are allowed to charge was capped at 22 cents per swipe. That's down from 44 cents. To make up for lost revenue, a few big name banks are now charging you a fee to use your debit cards--some as much as $5 a month.

"I don't think you need to pay debit card fees, I don't have a debit card," says AB&T customer Dick Martin.

And many would agree. If you're looking to make a move to a credit union or local bank, there are things to consider. With a credit union there are no service fees and several have free checking. There's little or no minimum monthly balance and there's usually more of a personal touch.

"We tend to have relationships with our customers that are lasting, not only for a short period of time, but can last a lifetime or even generations," says AB&T President and CEO, Luke Flatt.

And some have better loan rates and perks, like ATM fee refunds.

"Another advantage that we have is that we have no annual fees on our credit cards and they're a fixed rate card and we start them at the minimum of $500 limit on them and go up to $10,000 on them," says Carol Wolfe, Vice President of Member Services with DOCO Federal Credit Union.

However, there are a few disadvantages. There's little to no access to ATMs or branches and out of town banks. And before changing banks, just make sure they offer all the same services you rely on.

Folks with the credit unions and local banks that we spoke with say they have noticed a change, saying they've seen customers from the bigger banks walk through their doors.

"Yes, we have recently and in the most recent past we've seen a lot more coming over to us. They're just dissatisfied with some other services that they're receiving currently," says Wolfe.

"There was a gentleman here on Friday and that was what he was doing was moving from one of the larger regional banks and felt that we provided a much more personal atmosphere," says Flatt.

And small bank customers say they're supporting the community.

"I think we need to keep the business local. We don't need to send it around the region or around the country. We need to keep it right here with the local folks," says Martin.

Experts say be sure to shop around and make sure the move is right for you.