Credit unions across the United States are implementing a variety of tactics to promote their credit card programs and penetrate their member base. Consequently, the industry’s credit card balances are expanding — 5.5% year-over-year growth in third quarter 2012 — amid credit unions buying back or launching credit card products.
There’s ample opportunity in the market, but how can credit unions differentiate themselves in today’s competitive environment of low-rate and reward products? Taking inspiration from foreign credit union cousins is one tactic.
In its 2012 Blue Ribbon Awards, Australia’s Financial Review Smart Investor recognized Community First Credit Union ($752M USD, New South Wales, AU) as having the “Best Low Rate Credit Card in Australia.” When it comes to rates, fees, and features, its product is in the country’s top 5%, says the credit union’s website.
Founded in 1959, the credit union with 68,454 members is competing against Australia’s Big Four Banks: ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, and Westpac. It recently tapped the power of social media through its “Facebook Fake” promotion. The campaign drew a parallel between deceptive — or “fake” — Facebook profile pictures and dishonest credit card rates. A promotional video combined with Facebook ads and blogger outreach stated: “While other credit cards were hiding behind ‘fake’ welcome rates, Community First Credit Union offered Australia’s lowest real, ongoing rate.”
The creative video combined with the Facebook campaign and a free photo shoot encouraging people to embrace real profile photos resulted in a 20% increase in credit card applications.