Affinity Card Reward Help Credit Unions Stand Out
Even though affinity card issuing may have a become a more difficult regulatory and economic challenge, some credit unions have begun to find payments success by launching affinity card rewards programs, credit union card executives report.
Just as affinity card issuing allows banks and some credit unions to issue cards in conjunction with a local group or association and market the cards based on that association, affinity card rewards enable credit unions to offer reward point redemption options that are tied to a given locale or community. Or they allow cardholders to use their points and generate points to help a local charity or other nonprofit. Each functions, the executives explained, as a way of personalizing and characterizing a financial product that could be seen as a financial commodity, a card much like any other financial institutions' card, and make it more appealing to members.
Michigan First consolidated its previous three card programs (two Visa platforms and a legacy MasterCard program), none of which had rewards, into a new program it dubbed the Experience Michigan First Rewards Visa card, a credit card with a rewards program aimed at spurring economic activity at local retailers and at local travel destinations.
In addition to the usual rewards options like travel miles or gift cards to national retailers, the new card offers rewards that allows members to choose from Michigan-made products or popular Michigan destinations when they redeem rewards points.