Louisville, Ky.-based Class Act Federal Credit Union “lost” 50 wallets last month, and is rewarding consumers who bring them back to the branch.

In celebration of International Credit Union Day, Class Act representatives placed 50 faux leather wallets – each stuffed with a $2 bill and information about the credit union – in locations near its University of Louisville branch. Along with the cash, each wallet contained information about credit unions, a coupon for a free $25 deposit for anyone who opened a new checking or savings account, and a hand-numbered contest entry for a one-in-50 chance to win a red U of L Bluetooth speaker.

Those who found the wallets had until Nov. 21 to bring the certificates and contest entry forms back to the branch. According to Pat Curran, SVP of marketing and business development at the $203 million-asset credit union, about 10 percent of the wallets and forms have made their way back.

Class Act Federal Credit Union in Louisville, Ky. distributed faux leather wallets filled with $2 bills as part of an awareness campaign tied to International Credit Union Day.
Class Act Federal Credit Union in Louisville, Ky. distributed faux leather wallets filled with $2 bills as part of an awareness campaign tied to International Credit Union Day.

Along with the wallets, Class Act representatives also interviewed consumers on the street, asking them about credit unions and capturing their responses on camera. The result? Lots of education is still needed.

“There are plenty of credit unions here – I don’t feel any lack of competition – but there are still a lot of hurdles [to making consumers understand the movement],” said Curran. “There are a lot of young people, particularly young people, who don’t know what a credit union is.”

Marketing and Sales Analyst Ryan Olexa pointed out that many young people – including some who attend the university near where the credit union has a branch presence – “may have an account with a credit union because their parents did or because they’re part of the military, but even they don’t usually know what it really means.”

And that, added Curran, means there is plenty of opportunity for CUs to educate the public.

“Historically, people got their information from their benefits people [at work],” he said. “Say there was a factory and people said, ‘That’s where your money goes.’ But now with community charters being so prevalent, there’s less of this connection to the workforce, so they don’t get an education at work anymore.”

The concept behind the “lost wallet” promotion was simply to build awareness, said Curran, and “I thought if we got new accounts or new loans out of it, that’d just be gravy. We wanted to teach young folks what a credit union is.”

The concept was successful enough that Curran said it will likely be repeated – at least next year for International Credit Union Day, if not sooner. While this year the CU elected to keep it to one branch – the location most likely to attract business from students – Curran floated the possibility of doing it near schools next time around, befitting Class Act’s roots as a teachers’ credit union.

The promotion itself only cost a few hundred dollars – just the price of the wallets (about $4.50 each), along with the $40 Bluetooth speaker and the $2 bills. And the good news? The cash was already on hand, despite how infrequently that denomination gets used.

“We didn’t have to order any special, so I guess we kept enough,” Curran said with a laugh.