Envision Credit Union was one of the first credit unions to offer rewards on debit card signature transactions. Available to members since early 2004, the rewards program provides 3 points for every $5 of signature debit charges. To help increase loyalty and usage, points do not expire. Members receive updated point accumulation information on their monthly statement and online. Beyond just a checking account, members are able to tangibly see the benefits of belonging to Envision.
When the program was launched, the credit union used traditional methods to notify members, including in-branch promotions, statement stuffers and the newsletter. They also put an emphasis on their website, including redesigning parts to highlight the debit and credit card offerings. As members were used to general consumer credit card rewards, it was smooth acceptance for debit rewards. Linda Sojat, notes, "There was some confusion as points only accrue on signature transactions. But once the members were educated, we did see a bump in our interchange income." Envision's employees were also enlisted to remind members to accrue points using signature transactions.
Householding of Rewards Points
The credit union began offering a platinum rewards card in late 2007. Members receive 1 point for every dollar in credit card charges and can combine their credit and debit card rewards. When their card processor began offering a householding mechanism – allowing members to combine debit and credit rewards among all cardholders at the same residence, the credit union jumped at the opportunity for their members. Members link their accounts through the processor's website. Once the addresses from the various cards have been matched, members can accrue points from all of their credit union cards. Members are able to select prizes and redeem points online.
Over 85% of share draft accounts have an active debit card, and 21.9% of members carry the credit union's credit card. Sojat says, "It is clear that having rewards has made a difference in distinguishing our program and extended loyalty to the card. We had to reissue 11,000 cards due to the Heartland Compromise, and we received many, many calls from members who were initially missing their points."
For credit unions thinking of offering rewards on any of their cards, Sojat suggests, "Allow the householding of rewards to expand penetration throughout the household. Make sure to work with your core processor and online banking processor to add the rewards points to monthly statements. That will eliminate additional notifications of rewards balances. Most of all, go with a quality rewards program. Members won't use a program that doesn't offer a variety of rewards and isn't easy to use."