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Community bankers give $20 worth of free gas to first 200 drivers

Community banks in 20 markets, including Baltimore, will give away $80,000 worth of gas Wednesday, Aug. 15,  in a one-day event aimed at winning back customers from the mega banks.

The nationwide collective of community banks and credit unions plan to give away $4,000 in each market as part of the "Take Back Your Banking" initiative.

In Baltimore, bankers will pump $20 worth of gas for each of the first 200 drivers who pull in to the Greenspring Shell gas station at 2859 Smith Avenue in Pikesville. Employees of The Patapsco Bank will be pumping gas.

"Community banks are coming together to take back their share of banking from the mega banks," said Andra Lewis, a spokeswoman for the collective, which uses a brand of checking and savings accounts called Kasasa. "We've been hearing over and over again, people are just not satisfied with their banks and considering moving, and a lot of them don't know about other options."

The Kasasa account brand is available only at community banks and credit unions. It offers no-fee checking and savings accounts and interest rates of between 2.5 percent to 4 percent that can be paid as cash back or product downloads from iTunes or Amazon.com, Lewis said.

Brochures on the brand will be distributed at the gas giveaway on Wednesday, but no consumer information will be gathered at the event, Lewis said.

She said the banking giants have steadily stolen market share from smaller banks over the past decade despite passing down more and more fees on consumer accounts.

"We're trying to give something back," Lewis said.

But show up early. The free $20 worth of gas will only be available for the first 200 drivers, and only from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Lewis said organizers anticipate a long line of cars.


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