WOODBRIDGE, Va.-With CUs likely to experience more reductions to debit interchange, one credit union is testing whether prized-based incentives can alter cardholder behavior to drive more debit transactions and larger-dollar purchases.

Belvoir Federal Credit Union ran its SwipeStakes promo in June and July that handed out an entry for six high-tech prize drawings each time members swiped and signed their debit cards for purchases of $5 or more. After the two-month campaign ended, Belvoir FCU saw on average a 7% lift in overall transactions and a 10% increase in signature-based transactions, with a 9% bump in signature-based transactions over $5. There was also an average 3% boost in debit cards with at least one transaction.

"Ultimately, with the threat to debit interchange, you want to be able to alter how your members use their debit cards," said Amy McConnell, e-marketing and public relations specialist. "We wanted to see if we could change behavior, which is very difficult, but we did."

During the six months prior to the campaign, Belvoir had averaged 159,134 signature debit transactions per month. In June the total went to 173,392 and 179,000 in July.

"We look at this change as significant, because it produced results in just two months. We want to run this program again, maybe for a longer period, possibly around the holidays," said McConnell.


Drawings Are Held

Three drawings to give away an iPad, iPod, and a $100 iTunes gift card were held each month of the campaign, and members were given one entry for each qualifying card swipe. No limits were placed on entry totals. "We had several members tell our staff they were swiping and signing just to get more entries," said McConnell.

Belvoir Federal spent $1,500 on the prizes.

BFCU also held the same campaign for internal staff, but gave away gas cards and iTunes gift cards.

We wanted our employees who work with members to really get excited about the campaign and to be able to speak effectively about it, which the internal effort accomplished. With the threat to debit interchange, changing cardholder behavior has to be a priority."

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