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Banks Lose Customer Loyalty, Survey Finds

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.) -- Americans don't feel that banks are particularly loyal to them so why should they feel the need to stick with their banks?

A new J.D. Power and Associates survey finds that more customers switched allegiances last year, with 9.6 percent admitting that they opened an account at another bank in 2011.  In 2010, the number of bank-changers was 8.7 percent.

The survey reveals that a third of those who leave their banks cite higher fees as the reason they made the switch.

J.D. Power official Michael Beird remarks, "When banks announce the implementation of new fees, public reaction can be quite volatile and result in customers voting with their feet."

The winners in all this appear to be smaller banks and credit unions.  Their customer base grew by 10.3 percent in 2011, a whopping 2.2 percent increase in new accounts from last year.

A big reason why people decided to leave their old institutions was last November's Bank Transfer Day, a grassroots movement to protest Bank of America's decision to charge some customers $5 a month to use their debit cards.  The bank has since rescinded that policy change.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio