APPLETON, Wis.—Four times as many members of Fox Communities Credit Union are now carrying its credit card, thanks to clever promotion and simply more attention to pushing the plastic.


Partnering with its processor, CSCU, the credit union’s campaign focuses on front-line knowledge of credit cards and their benefits, balance transfer campaigns, and special promotions. Today Fox Communities is opening approximately 200 new cards a month, compared with just 50 as recently as 2010. Card outstanding balances have increased from $7.6 million in 2010 to more than $10 million today.


“We realized we needed to focus on credit cards more, for a number of reasons,” said Kristin Steede, sales trainer. “One, because we can drive revenue from card balances, it’s one of the best consumer loans now. Two, the interchange—we realize that with the trickle-down from the Durbin rules on debit income, which we are already seeing, we need to offset that loss with credit card interchange.”


One of most effective efforts came through a sweeps that gave away two tickets to a Green Bay Packers game. That promotion increased the $880-million CU’s number of credit cards by 67%, usage by 9.5%, and cash advances five-fold.


Between Sept. 1. and Oct. 31 last year, every credit card transaction gave members one entry for the drawing that took place in November.


'Impossible To Get’


“This really differentiated the credit union,” said Steede. “We are based in Appleton, a half hour away from Green Bay, where we have four branches. Packer tickets are impossible to get unless you know someone. There is a waiting list for tickets of about 60,000, we are told.”


A CU staffer donated the tickets for the drawing. Along with the ticket drawing Fox Communities ran a 3.99% for 12 months balance transfer campaign.


“Every time we run the balance transfer promo our cash advance rate more than doubles,” said Steede, who explained the credit union has run the balance transfer effort a few times. “The first time we ran the balance transfer, during the ticket giveaway, we saw over $700,000 per month in cash advances. A normal month is $250,000.”


Education Pays Off


Outside the ticket and balance transfer enticements, what moves new cards are educated employees, said Steede. Front-line staff had to know the ins and outs of the entire card program, including fraud protection. “By educating the entire staff, and incenting them as well, we were able to promote the card program during every interaction with members and non-members.”


Michelle Evans, senior portfolio consultant at CSCU, Tampa, Fla., said Fox Communities has been a good partner with the card processor and pays attention not only to big promotions, but to the “little things that add up to strong card program results.”


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