The $620 million Michigan First Credit Union of Lathrop Village is enjoying a burst of new card business – 700 applications a month – from a rewards program stressing statewide tourism and patronage of local businesses.
The Experience Michigan First Rewards Visa program launched in April and has boosted outstandings by $1 million, an unexpected jump on what officials described as heretofore “stagnant” balances over the last 10 years.
“We are shooting for $5 million more by year end,” said Linda Douglas, vice president of marketing at the suburban Detroit credit union. Until the start of the rewards venture, card balances was at around $16 million,
The campaign has apparently been successful, said Douglas, by tapping into public support for a popular tourism TV blitz broadcast nationwide and pushed by the state over the past two years.
Individuals that use the Experience Michigan First Rewards Visa earn 1.5 bonus points for local purchases and build up rewards points toward statewide and national travel, shopping and attractions or to make donations to local charities, the credit union said.
“When we sat down to create a rewards credit card, we knew we wanted to encourage supporting Michigan. We love this state and know consumers want to show off their passion and pride,” said Michael Poulos, president/CEO.
The state, he said, “is making a comeback because of local institutions and local leaders we’re partnering with as part of Experience Michigan First.”
Card users can “continue to buy local and be rewarded for it,” Poulos added. The card has no annual fee, no balance transfer fee and a low rate, the credit union said. The rewards program adds one point for every dollar and 1.5 points for spending in Michigan.
The card campaign showcases a number of statewide attractions including the Mackinac Bridge and Grand Hotel, Henry Ford Museum and Detroit Zoo and Michigan Adventure Park.
Cardholders can also donate their rewards toward 20 different local charities, the credit union said.