Credit unions want to be there for their members from birth through retirement, and designing niche financial programs especially for key points in life — childhood, teenage years, young adulthood and retirement, for example — is an effective way to build an active, engaged group of members.
Here are eight examples of life stage-appropriate programs currently in place at credit unions, all of which draw their targeted groups in with incentives, from treasure chest prizes to loan discounts to local merchant coupons. Then, feel free to tell us about your credit union’s creative life stage-oriented offering in the comments section below.
Dollar Dog Kids Club
Advertising cute cartoon characters is usually a foolproof way to grab the attention of children, and that’s the idea behind the Dollar Dog Kids Club, a savings and financial literacy program that features a superhero dog. A number of credit unions are snagging new members at an early age through the program, which was created by Pennsylvania-based marketing and business development company Marketing Partners Inc.
Parents and grandparents of children ages 12 and under can sign their tots up for a Dollar Dog Kids Club savings account with an initial deposit of at least $5. Kids can then look forward to collecting prizes as they make more deposits, as well as participating in contests and events that teach basic financial literacy concepts. Club membership also includes access to the online “clubhouse,” where kids can play games as they learn about money.
Kirby Kangaroo Kids Club
This campaign’s concepts are similar to the Dollar Dog Kids Club, but its mascot is a kangaroo named Kirby. Child members of participating credit unions (ages 12 and under) can make deposits into their very own savings accounts to earn “bucks” that are exchangeable for prizes, receive a membership card and newsletter, and attend kid-friendly activities and events.
The Kirby Kangaroo Kids Club, developed and maintained by the Credit Union Association of New Mexico, also promotes investing early in life, as some credit unions advertise a share account as one of the club’s offerings. On the club’s website, kids can find jokes, printable coloring pages, and stories and games that aim to teach personal finance basics.
Not Your Mama’s Account at Vantage CU
Created for the 18-to-25 set by the $710.7 million Vantage Credit Union in Bridgeton, Mo., this free checking product aims to attract Gen Y members with age-appropriate features. The account encourages saving with Swipe2Save, which allows account holders to choose an amount for an automatic transfer into their savings account with each debit transaction. They can also set a low balance threshold to discontinue transfers when their account balances become too low.
The Not Your Mama’s Account’s online banking features include personal financial management tools, social media feeds, and local merchant ads and coupons. The “Oops NSF Fee” rebate allows one overdraft fee rebate every six months, and the account also comes with unlimited PIN-based POS fee rebates, granted the member is enrolled in e-statements and makes at least one electronic deposit of $250 per month.
Other incentives for Not Your Mama’s Account holders include “tweetMyMoney” mobile banking access via Twitter, a savings of $200 on first mortgage closing costs and a free gift with a qualified insurance quote. Vantage CU said it will soon introduce remote deposit capture services to the account.
Teen Advantage Club at Genisys CU
Teenagers-only clubs abound at credit unions across the country. One of them is the Teen Advantage Club at the $1.4 billion Genisys Credit Union of Auburn Hills, Mich., which is for members ages 13 to 17 and intends to educate this age group about money management.
Club membership includes an official card and certificate, entry into quarterly drawings for prizes, a quarterly newsletter containing information about personal finance and Genisys CU’s activities and contests, monthly checking and quarterly share savings account statements, a direct deposit offering called eAllowance, and access to a free, online money management tool and information-packed website.
Genisys CU uses the club to promote a number of other teen-friendly offerings, including several savings products, a private student loan, a young adult Visa card and a first-time auto loan. The credit union also encourages teens to give back to their communities — on the Teen Advantage Club website, young members can learn how to get involved with Genisys CU-sponsored community events.
Youth Products at Alta Vista CU
Some credit unions want to ensure they’ve covered all their bases in the youth market by offering a suite of products geared toward specific age groups — either their own, unique creations or “canned” products made available through a third party. At the $141.5 million, Redlands, Calif.-based Alta Vista Credit Union, for example, members ages 6 and under can join the Vista Savers Club, kids ages 7 to 13 can get into the M3 Money Club, and teens and young adults ages 14 to 21 can open Next Generation accounts.
The youngest of the bunch can open their first savings accounts with an initial deposit of $25. Members of the M3 Money Club are also welcome to open a savings account, plus receive a membership card and quarterly newsletter, learn about personal finance on an interactive website, and participate in events and contests.
The Next Generation account comes with its own website filled with articles on topics such as starting a business, getting a part-time job and buying a first car. The young adult package also includes access to savings accounts and educational workshops, and members ages 16 and older are eligible for a checking account, debit card, first-time Visa card and auto loan.
First-Time Home Buyer Programs at PenFed CU, SECU and Columbia Community CU
Helping members realize the dream of homeownership is one way credit unions live up to their cooperative philosophies. Many have developed programs exclusively for first-time home buyers, and in an economy that remains sluggish, members are taking full advantage of them.
The $15 billion Pentagon Federal Credit Union of Alexandria, Va.’s PenFed Foundation offers the Dream Makers Program, a down payment grant for members of the military. To qualify, borrowers must also have a gross annual income of $55,000 or less or make 80% or less of their area’s median income.
Another large credit union, the $25 billion State Employees’ Credit Union in Raleigh, N.C., has a first-time home buyers’ mortgage for members who have not owned a home in the past three years, new employees of a North Carolina state agency or public school system, and existing employees who are relocating to accept a new job with the state, the credit union said. Participants may receive financing for up to 100% of their home’s purchase price and a $1,000 advance to help with closing costs.
The $872 million Columbia Community Credit Union in Vancouver, Wash. demonstrates a third example of a first-time home buyer program. It offers a Fannie Mae-sponsored program for novice home buyers who have little saved for a down payment, as well as FHA-insured loans and counseling programs.
Newlywed Club at Box Elder County CU
First comes love, then comes ... a credit union program just for newlyweds. At the $86.9 million, Brigham City, Utah-based Box Elder County Credit Union, about-to-be-hitched couples can sign up for the Newlywed Club, which includes a wedding registry and coupon service.
As part of the Newlywed Club wedding registry service, the credit union advertises members’ registries on its website and in a local newspaper free of charge, allows couples’ friends and family members to send cash gifts and stores the names of gift-givers for newlyweds to view at a later time.
Participating couples can even have their names, photos and wedding dates posted to the Box Elder County CU website.
Senior Program at Service CU
While senior citizens are an unlikely group for credit unions to target in their marketing efforts, a product designed especially for this age bracket is well-deserved. One example is at the $2.2 billion, Portsmouth, N.H.-based Service Credit Union, where members ages 62 and older can benefit from the credit union’s Senior Program.
Senior Program participants are not required to meet a minimum account balance or annual income, but they must maintain a direct deposit of their income into a credit union account, including their Social Security and retirement payments. Benefits of the program include advance direct deposit payments, access to high-yielding savings accounts and share certificates, and a 0.5% discount on consumer loans and credit cards.
Participants are also entitled to no-fee checking, as well as online banking, online bill pay, e-statement, mobile banking and remote deposit capture services.