Giving to Get Back: Expanding Your Card Programs


Cardholders, whether referring to debit or credit, will likely use their cards because of the benefits that are offered to them. These benefits will increase member satisfaction, help make your credit union their primary financial institution, and bring increased revenue to your organization. So, what should you offer?

Mulling your reward options

Understanding what your members want is extremely important. Giving them benefits for using your card programs will drive your card usage and keep your cards top of wallet.

Monitor the market and see what is offering the most attractive feature. Some features include cash rebates, travel, gift cards, or merchandise. Today, cash rebates top the market, so how do you incorporate that into your program?

Digging into offering cash back rewards, you need to determine who can track and how the benefit gets paid to your members. Does your core data processor have a solution? Do you need to find a third party to offer this incentive to your members?

Once you know how the service is going to work you will need to understand what you can offer for the benefit. I would recommend outlining how profitable your program is. This would be your interchange or service fees less the program expenses. Once you understand this, you can determine what you can offer.

Promotional campaigns or rate teasers

Promotional campaigns offer a way to appeal to consumers through a comparatively higher reward without having to make it a permanent change or one that’s across all merchant categories.

For example, you might offer a higher cash back on a specific merchant category code. For example, 1% cash back on gas and groceries and maybe .5% on all the rest of the purchases. Alternatively, maybe Christmas promotions are the way you want to go as it will limit the promotion to a time period rather than a category. E.g. higher cash back for purchases done during the month of December.

Getting more credit card specific, balance transfer promotions make sense. Offer these promotions in January to have them pay off their other credit cards with a lower interest rate. Or offer an introductory rate. Open a new card with us and get 1.99% interest for the first 12 months.

Drilling down on further credit card specific offerings

On top of the reward options previously discussed, you can offer things like 1Click credit cards—our CUSO’s solution to instant loan offers—or Credit Line Increase Programs (CLIP).

1Click for credit cards is a CU*BASE offering which allows you to market to members who do not have credit cards based on existing data you have. It puts a pre-approval out there for your member to review, accept or decline, and if accepted it allows them to open the account and begin using it while they wait for the card to come in the mail.

The CLIP program allows your credit union to set some parameters and offer credit line increases without the member requesting it. This typically has members using their cards more as they have increased spending limits. Again, bringing in interest and interchange income.

Get more from your plastics

If you’re looking to get more out of your plastics, offering rewards programs will go a long way. Even if you don’t think you can keep with the best rewards programs out there, even a little can go a long way towards pushing your cards to the top of your members’ wallets. And don’t forget to take advantage of ways your processer may offer to make getting credit cards into qualified members’ hands easier! After all, the best card programs do not count for much if the cards they are attached to are never swiped.


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