PAYMENTS: Rewards Program Pays Big Dividends for Citadel



What kind of incentives does your credit union offer on its debit and credit cards? If you’re not meeting the expectation of cardholders in terms of rewards, you may be missing out on a revenue goldmine. See how one CU drove significant sales growth through the addition of a total loyalty program.

Cardholders’ expectations for value in their most frequently used (top-of-wallet) credit or debit card have risen to rather lofty levels. Back in the day– when credit cards first appeared on the payments scene – many folks were happy just to get a credit card because it extended their buying power in the absence of ready cash on hand. But now, people expect far more. What was once an optional component is now essential to card program growth. Today, rewards incentives – double points, charitable donations, cash back, sweepstakes, contests andlifestyle perks – are necessary add-ons for issuers to effectively drive consumer acceptance and usage. A solid rewards program is quite often the top reason consumers choose one card over another.

We like getting “stuff” when we spend. And when we do, we spend more.It’s a fact. Cardholders with a rewards card spend on average 60 percent more and conduct 30 percent more transactions than non-rewards cardholders.

Rewards are a differentiator. Let me tell you a present-day rewards story . . .

Rewards in Action at Citadel

Citadel, a credit union based in Exton, Pennsylvania, reports a strong overall portfolio due to participation in rewards programs. Citadel is a 10-year PSCU member and has worked with PSCU to introduce and even customize several rewards programs for its members since 2004.

In 2008, Citadel added CURewards® to its debit cards and has averaged a 12 percent growth on debit sales year over year since then. Due to the successes from the cashback programs, which were introduced in 2011, Citadel worked closely with PSCU to launch a cash rewards card and a pilot Cash Back Mall in May 2015. An additional merchant-funded piece was added to give members the opportunity to earn even more points and redeem them where they want.

Citadel optimizes rewards programs aimed at increasing usage and giving back to members, which includes participating in PSCU’s Magic Minute™ sweepstakes. Magic Minute is a program that recognizes and rewards credit union members for their trust and loyalty to their credit union. The event itself – a 60-second dash through a warehouse packed with high-end merchandise – is a different take on the classic rewards program model. It is geared toward bringing the credit union spirit to life and providing a way for credit unions to achieve deeper engagement, promote loyalty and drive usage overall.Last year’s Magic Minute dashers loaded up on MacBook Airs, iPads, Canon EOS Rebel DSLR cameras, Dyson vacuums, Dooney & Bourke designer handbags, 50-inch flat-screen TVs and other goodies worth about $36,000 altogether.

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