Under the NJ Preferred Program, members can buy cars, eat at restaurants or buy clothes and receive exclusive discounts at participating businesses. The retailers can insert coupons in the credit union's statements, as well as advertise discounts and offers at North Jersey FCU's branches and on its Web site. In return, members get exclusive discounts offered by the preferred businesses.
James Giffin, vice president of sales and marketing at the Totowa, N.J.-based credit union, came up with the idea of the preferred program as he shopped for a new car.
"What if I could get a great rate for my car and also get discounts at surrounding stores," Giffin recalled thinking at the time. "That would really help all of our local businesses get new customers."
The credit union said it has not been immune to the economic crisis that has hit the local financial and automotive industries. After seeing a small rise in retail sales from 0.4% in June to 0.6% according to data from the U.S. Commerce Department, North Jersey FCU said it decided to take advantage of the positive news with its new program, which made its debut last week.