A white paper published by Card Services for Credit Unions reported that only 50% of credit unions have loyalty or rewards programs attached to their credit or debit cards.

CSCU is the association of credit unions which which process their card transactions with FIS and actively promotes FIS’ rewards program called ScoreCard, but Bill Lehman, FIS vice president for portfolio consulting, said the white paper was directed more generally at the topic of loyalty rewards and argues that too many credit unions still do not use them.

“The point of the white paper it to ask credit unions if they are active in this space and, if they are not, tell them they need to become active now,” Lehman explained.

Having a rewards program attached to at least a credit card program is a key way a credit union can protect its card portfolio from having cardholders switch to other cards which have rewards programs.

“Credit unions must recognize that cardholders are a lot savvier than they used to be and expect more from their rewards programs,” Lehman wrote in Rewards Programs are Essential For Building (and Retaining) Member Loyalty. “In fact, cardholders are much quicker than banks and credit unions to understand what they want from their financial institutions. Consumers will change financial institutions if they are presented with a rewards program that has a stronger value proposition that better matches their needs.”