As an employee of a Credit Union Service Organization (CUSO), I love credit unions, and I want everyone else to love them too. Often, I feel as if I am personally responsible for sharing my love for and knowledge of credit unions with all of my friends and family (and sometimes complete strangers), including the benefits of receiving a higher dividend rate on your share accounts (like 7% on your checking account), a lower interest rate on your car/personal loan, or the minimal/no service account fees. I hate discovering that peers in my social circle pay monthly or annual fees simply for having an open account at one of the big banks in the area. One of my personal favorite member benefits is the use of an ATM where you are not charged a fee for withdrawing your hard earned money.
When it comes to making a smart financial decision, the words “at my credit union” should almost always play a factor in the conversation. However, I am embarrassed to admit that despite my love for credit unions, my wallet does contain a handful of credit cards that are owned and operated by one of those big banks, including some that don’t even offer a retail location such as Capital One or Discover.
It’s the tempting 0% interest rate banners or the 2-3% cash back offers that sucker me into the financial exchange every time (yes, this has happened more than once). You just can’t beat the financial gains it offers you as a consumer…or can you? Can my credit union beat the rate of the big bank? If you asked me this question, I couldn’t answer you confidently because I haven’t been presented with my options. Don’t I deserve to know if my credit union can outperform the “Big Bad Banks” of the world?
It’s true that my credit union helped me in managing financial situations that required a loan and encouraged me to save when funds were available to invest, but it’s the big banks that make credit card transactions appear more financially attractive, believing that by using their card I’ll be getting more “bang for my buck.” So, I fall for the temptation which unfortunately creates more and more distance between me and my credit union account. Since all my cards are on the table, I should admit that I use my Capital One credit card for 90% of my transactions and the other 10% are used on my Amazon card. Then I just pay them off each month using only two ACH transactions from my credit union.
Trying to find my way back
Believe me, I don’t want to be lured in by the banks. I’d much rather stay committed to my credit unions. So, as an effort to recommit myself, I began researching my credit union’s credit card rates and information, looking for an offer to beat out those banks. I hold a membership at three local credit unions, all of which are within thirty minutes of my home or work. Surely one of them had to have competitive offers. Therefore, I decided to investigate. Two out of the three of my credit unions had a landing page for credit cards, making it easy to educate myself on their product offerings. It was even easier to find this information when it was an option on their home page menu.
Once I located their credit card material, it was time to learn what the options at my local credit union were. Out of the two credit unions that offered a landing page to promote their credit card product(s), only one of them offered a call to action. This page included not only an “Apply Now” button, but it also included a Balance Transfer Form to move over the balances of my other credit cards. This Balance Transfer Form brought the user to a PDF in order to complete their contact/membership information and provide the credit card information that needs to be transferred over to the credit union.
However, there were still few offers that could compete with what I currently had at the banks. Thus, I learned while it was fairly simple to move my credit card accounts back to my credit union, there was little temptation to do so. Shouldn’t they be advertising competitive offers to keep my business? Should I sacrifice better rates to stay loyal to my credit unions, or am I doomed to be stuck with banks forever?
Fight for me, credit union!
If only my credit union could draw me back in… of course, my personal preference would be to keep my funds and all my financial activity under the same roof, but I also want the added perks that the big banks can offer. If a new, competitive offer presented itself in the mail next week, at the branch next month, or in the form of an email, I would instantly “break up” with my banks and return safely into the arms of my credit union.
Should one of my credit unions read this article and asked themselves, “How can I encourage Kasey Hawkins to take the next step?” I’d say, let’s start with a simple email offer. My email address has been on file since the day I opened my membership. I’ve received several general notifications such as: “The branch is closing early for the holiday” or “The credit union now offers RDC,” but never an offer.
Target me for a credit card campaign using the credit report data stored in the system. The Credit Bureau data shows that I have one or more open trade lines outside of the credit union. This data is just sitting in the system waiting to be used. Encourage me to pull the trigger and complete the Balance Transfer Form and make it easy. By utilizing electronic signature software, the credit union can allow me to securely apply for a credit card, return the Balance Transfer Form, and finalize the credit card paperwork all from home. Mix in an attractive offer such as “0% Balance Transfer for 12 months” and your member since 2002 will be returning safely to their local, home-grown credit union.