'Fight the Power'? Americans Move Their Money From Big to Small Banks

After "World News" reported Monday on banks raising interest rates on credit cards before new consumer protection rules take effect, ABC News heard from you.

"We bail them out and they raise rates. Priceless," one viewer e-mailed.

But many viewers took it a step further.

"Fight the power," wrote one.

"My secret ... very simple, a credit card from a credit union," said another.

It turns out that thousands of Americans are doing the same thing -- trading their banks based on Wall Street for the ones on Main Street.

One woman, Stephanie Frost, documented her move on YouTube. She closed her account at Bank of America after her credit card rate jumped 27 percent.

The Huffington Post is on the bandwagon, urging its readers to, "Move Your Money."

The Web site even posted a video with clips from the movie classic, "It's a Wonderful Life," to support the cause. Remember that film's iconic small-town banker with a big heart, George Bailey?

On MoveYourMoney.info there's an easy tool: Just plug in your zip code, and listings pop up with hometown banks.

"The response has been dramatic," Huffington Post creator Arianna Huffington told ABC News. "Over half of the zip codes in the country have already been searched for a local bank, and people are really eager to move beyond anger and frustration into action."

But is Huffington simply encouraging a run on the bank? Are those smaller banks as safe? After all, 81 percent of the banks that failed last year were smaller community banks.

To that, Huffington said, "The only banks that come up when you put in your zip code are solvent, secure banks."

They are banks where your deposits are insured by the FDIC, just like the big banks.

In truth, Huffington's crusade isn't likely to have much effect on financial giants like Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

As a recent article on Slate pointed out, a huge number of bank customers would have to make a switch to have any meaningful impact on the big banks -- some 2.6 million customers. That's particularly unlikely when tools like direct deposit and online bill paying have made switching banks more of a hassle than ever before.

Even so, the "Move Your Money" effort is finding grassroots support, particularly on Facebook, where a fast-growing group posts its members' own experiences.

Facebook user April Schiller switched, and she commented: "How amazing to actually talk to humans to who remember me."

We went to find her at her new hometown bank in Seattle.

"I received thank you's and a hand-signed Christmas card from them," Schiller wrote. "It was great."

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