CUs Gear Up for Bank Transfer Day

Banks’ debit fee misstep drives thousands of consumers to CUs.

November 04, 2011
KEYWORDS bank , card , debit , fees , transfer
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Many of the nation’s credit unions are gearing up for Bank Transfer Day (Nov. 5) by offering bonuses for member referrals, promoting the credit union difference via social media, holding festivities, offering prizes, and taking other measures.

Based on a survey of 5,000 credit unions nationwide, CUNA estimates at least 650,000 consumers have joined credit unions since Sept. 29—the day Bank of America unveiled its now-rescinded $5 monthly debit card fee.

Countering large banks’ recent debit card fees, Mission Federal Credit Union in San Diego is rewarding members for using its debit card, paying members 25 cents each time they use the credit union’s debit card up to $5 during November and December.

“Mission Federal does not charge a monthly fee for debit card usage,” says Debra Schwartz, Mission Federals president/CEO. “With debit card fees top-of-mind right now, we intend to instead reward our customers up to $5 per month through year-end for using our debit cards, and invite others to experience the Mission Fed difference.”

As an additional bonus (part of its 50th anniversary), Mission Fed members can also refer a friend to open an account. Both will receive $50 if they meet certain program requirements.

The credit union also has formed a Kindness Crew to carry out “50 acts of kindness” at schools and nonprofit organizations throughout San Diego County to inspire others to do the same.

Special hours

In Redding, Calif., Members 1st Credit Union will offer special Saturday hours at one of its branches to coincide with Bank Transfer Day. It will welcome new members frustrated with large banks’ exorbitant fees for debit cards and other products, and highlight the credit union’s affordable offerings.

“Our basic checking account has no monthly fees, no debit card fees, and no minimum balances to maintain,” says Nicki Crandall, Members 1st AVP/area manager. “We’ve seen an increase of new members over the past couple weeks as people are bringing their business to us because of our fee-free account.”

Saturday’s festivities will include prizes for new members and free food. The credit union’s switch kit will allow new members to sign up for accounts in just a few minutes, and credit union staff will help new members transfer all automatic deposits and withdrawals from their old accounts to their new Members 1st accounts.

Always Bank Transfer Day

 Cash-back debit

The University of Illinois Employees Credit Union (UIECU) introduced CardCash® for debit cardholders, a 1% cash-back reward program on non-PIN debit card purchases.

UIECU debit card users may earn up to $250 per year in cash back for their everyday purchases—a distinct advantage for consumers when many large financial institutions are shutting down their debit card rewards programs and even charging monthly fees for debit cards.

“Many reward programs at other institutions are being eliminated, even while fees are being increased,” says Greg Anderson, UIECU senior vice president. “We are proud to be able to say that is not the case at the credit union. We’re adding services and products that have value to our members, without charging them for the privilege.”

CardCash benefits include:

  • 1% cash-back rewards on all qualifying non-PIN debit purchases with a yearly cash-back earning potential of $250;
  • Monthly e-statements communicating accrued cash back and detailed evaluation on qualified and unqualified purchases;
  • CardCash® Bonus Alert emails that provide tips and tricks for optimizing earning opportunities; and
  • Automatic deposit of cash-back earnings to their checking account—no need for redemption.

 Next: The switch is on

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