WOODBRIDGE, Va.-This year Belvoir FCU learned that promotions are key to increasing debit card usage.

Earlier in 2012, expecting reductions to debit interchange as the result of the Durbin rules, Belvoir tested whether prized-based incentives could alter cardholder behavior to drive more debit transactions and larger-dollar purchases (Credit Union Journal, Sept. 10).

Belvoir Federal's "SwipeStakes" promo in June and July 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 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.

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.

Since SwipeStakes the CU has continued to see an increase in overall debit transactions as well as signature-based transactions, but not in spending totals, said Amy McConnell, e-marketing and public relations specialist.

"In September and November we have seen a decline in spending activity. Thus, we are looking to run our SwipeStakes campaign again first quarter of 2013. We expect we can increase spending behavior again back to where we ended with the other campaign in July. Ultimately, with the threat to debit interchange, you want to be able to alter how your members use their debit cards. We wanted to see if we could change behavior, which is very difficult, but we did."

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