FERNDALE, Mich. – Credit Union One, a $719 million CU that has already played a pioneering role in affinity marketing for credit unions, has taken the affinity marketing concept to an even higher level, in a sense giving some cardholders the option of integrating the credit union into their daily lives. Beginning in May of this year, incoming students to the 17,000 student Oakland University will have the option of upgrading their Spirit Card, an identification and cafeteria access card, to something called the SpiritPLUS card. Credit Union One issues the SpiritPLUS card, which has the same functionality as the traditional Spirit Card but includes an ATM and debit function which the credit union adds when the student becomes a member of the credit union. This means that a student at the university will, in effect, be in contact with the credit union numerous times per day, when they enter their dorms and other restricted university buildings, when they eat, use the school library and shop at the school bookstore as well as when they use one of the CU’s ATMs on campus or shop off campus. “We see this as a key way of increasing the ties between the credit union and the students who may remain credit union members when they leave,” explained Tom Schaeffler, executive vice president with the credit union. Schaeffler reported that the first new student orientation sessions have started and that the credit union has had about 35% of new students open accounts and take the SpiritPLUS card. Credit Union One already has an affinity card program with the University of Detroit Mercy, another local school. The credit union considered these programs sufficiently close to the hearts of their mission that they retained both when they sold the rest of the card portfolio, worth roughly $33 million, to InfiCorp in late 2003. Now, with the affinity debit card, Schaeffler explained that the credit union had taken the affinity card issuing concept to the next level. “It helped that the university already had a card that it was using and that this card already had a role in the student’s lives,” he said. “That means that the students were already comfortable using the card for all of its different roles.” He also explained that the credit union avoided having potential privacy or data security conflicts with the card by having the University responsible for the part of the card that carried its data and leaving the credit union to be responsible for the parts of the card that it needed for debit and ATM access. “The card has two stripes,” Shaeffler expained, “one carries the university data for dorm entry and cafeteria access and the other can carry our data,” he said. When the student opts to get a SpiritPLUS card, they get the card loaded with their university data first at a University Office and then walk across the hall to the credit union branch to get the card loaded with the ATM and debit card data. “And because we have instant issue with the cards,” Schaeffler said, “we can do this in about 10 minutes.” Schaeffler stressed that despite the obvious benefits to the credit union that the cards provide, the CU had seen the cards as an opportunity first to simplify the lives of the students and help integrate the credit union more completely into the life of one of its fields of membership. -

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