Friday Fun: Alliant Credit Union Raises Savings Rates

In this era of low rates and stingy credit approvals, it’s always nice to get a little good news from your FI. This week, Chicago’s Alliant Credit Union made the most of its 10 basis point increase in its basic saving rate. On its homepage, the drop-down navigation menus for both Bank and Invest, included a cute graphic touted the new 1.11% APY (see above).

And clicking on Learn More takes you to a page proclaiming rates “15.9x times the national average (I feel like they could just say “15x,” the extra 0.9x just makes it harder to read and is meaningless). See screenshot below.

Bottom line: If you got it, flaunt it. Have a great weekend! (and go Venus!)

P.S. Congratulation Alliant on being named “best HSA for spending” by Morningstar.

Author: Jim Bruene is Founder & Senior Advisor to Finovate as well as Principal of BUX Advisors, a financial services user-experience consultancy. 

Friday Favorites: Financial Institutions Honor Veterans

If there’s one thing Americans can agree on, it’s honoring and celebrating the service of our veterans both past and present. Given the contentious election week in the United States, you’d think U.S. financial institutions would be rolling out the red, white and blue on their websites on Veterans Day today. But there was surprisingly little activity at the major banks. Most had the same old-same old on their homepages. Even Navy Federal Credit Union passed on adding anything extra for the day.

The only top-50 banks with Veterans Day graphics were Bank of America, Zions and of course USAA, all displaying page-dominating graphics on their homepages (see below). We also looked at a few credit unions (at random) and found BMI Federal Credit Union and PenFed honoring vets (see below).

Zions bank homepage featuring Veterans Day homage
Zions bank homepage featuring Veterans Day homage (11 Nov 2016)


USAA homepage on Veterans Day (11 Nov 2016)
USAA homepage on Veterans Day (11 Nov 2016)


Bank of America Veterans Day image on homepage (11 Nov 2016)
Bank of America Veterans Day image on homepage (11 Nov 2016)


PenFed Credit Union homepage on Veterans Day (11 Nov 2016)


BMI Federal Credit Union leads with a Veterans Day announcement (11 Nov 2016)

Friday Fun: Berenstain Bears Bring Banking to the Under-10 Set

berenstain-cu-book-coverI thought I’d left behind Berenstain Bears 15 years ago when my youngest graduated to Animorphs books. But they made an appearance today when I discovered how they are helping kids get involved with saving and managing money. And before you dismiss their appeal, did you know the Bears have sold 300 million copies in a 54-year run which includes 300 titles!

Three years ago, Franklin Mint FCU, through its CUSO CUNFL, developed a financial literacy program based on the series. It includes a book written by none other than Mike Berenstain himself, called Berenstain Bears Visit a Credit Union. It is licensed to other credit unions to appeal to grade schoolers.

obee-cu-cub-account-benefitsThe book is in use at a number of credit unions, but none more prominently than O Bee FCU in the Tacoma, Washington, area. Its Berenstain-themed Cub Account for under-12 members includes a 7.5% rate on the first $500 in savings, an important feature so you can use something other than pennies to show your youngster the benefits of savings. More impressive for the kids, every branch-deposit earns a free Dairy Queen ice-cream cone coupon (see inset for full list).

O Bee also offers a classroom financial literacy program with visits from the bears themselves, along with a jumbo version of the book to read to the class.

O Bee Credit Union’s Cub Account landing page


Bottom line: Efforts aimed at banking the kids of your customers are a clear win-win. It’s the right thing to do; kids, and their parents, need these services. And it helps keep both the child and their parents as customers for the rest of their lives. See our previous posts for more examples.

Happy New Year: Stanford Federal Credit Union Offers Refi Auto Loans to Start the Year Right

image Besides losing weight and hitting the gym more often, financial matters dominate the New Year’s resolution list. Spend less. Save more. And in general, just be smarter about your money. During this brief window of rational thinking, financial institutions would be wise to promote these smart products and services.

But in a fairly exhaustive search today (31 Dec 2012), looking at the 40 largest U.S. banks and at least that many credit unions (note 1), we found only  one New Year-themed promotion (note 2), a 1.49% auto-refi offer from Stanford Federal Credit Union (see below).


Stanford FCU homepage (31 Dec 2012)


Landing page for New Year promo



1. The first 40 to 50 credit unions listed in the Google results when searching “credit union” from a Seattle IP address.
2. Several credit unions posted well wishes and holiday hours on their homepages. Also, Fifth Third has a “celebrate 2013” message on its homepage as we reported last week.
3. Picture from New Year email and infographic by Finovate alum, Kiboo

Design: Pelican State Credit Union Reinforces Auto Loan Mailer with Homepage Notification

image Integrating offline marketing with online fulfillment is a promising way to improve ROI. Pelican State Credit Union grabs member attention with a temporary yellow bar across the top of the page (see screenshot below). It directs members that received an auto loan direct mailer to an online application.

I like this approach. It garners attention for the offer, but the narrow banner disappears permanently once users click the X in the upper-right corner. 

However, this extra attention can be a mixed blessing. It’s great for those members that received the offer (and remembered they did). But for everyone else, they are left scratching their heads after clicking "more info." 

The landing page doesn’t mention how to check whether you were one of the chosen recipients or how you might otherwise qualify for the deal. It also does nothing to reinforce the offer, which apparently was for an auto refinance. The slim copy simply points everyone to the generic online application. 

Bottom line: The yellow bar across the top is a great way to grab attention. But, you need to answer basic questions about the promo or you risk irritating members (see note.


Off topic: The CU is nicely decked out for the holidays with three timely messages among its five rotating promos: 

  • Visa Gift Cards, which unfortunately, require a trip to the branch to purchase (see first screenshot)
  • Double rewards points for using its Visa card in December
  • General holiday greeting, which leads to a YouTube picture collage with music


Pelican State Credit Union adds an Auto loan promo reminder at top of page (18 Dec 2012
Note: The CU also is nicely decked out for the holidays.


Landing page for Auto Loan Refinance mailer
Note: Blank box on left makes the page look like something is broken.


1. The CU has a prominent "chat now" button, so interested members could potentially get a quick answer there, assuming CSRs manning the chat are equipped to determine eligibility.

Oklahoma Employees Credit Union Posts Seven Specials for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

imageDuring the past few years we’ve reported on Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions at financial institutions (last year). ING Direct is the only large bank that has consistently used the post-Thanksgiving holiday in its marketing (see below) and we are glad to see it continue under Capital One ownership.

imageThis year we found another new entrant for our database of holiday offers, 42,000 member Oklahoma Employees Credit Union. It has a prominent black tag on its homepage announcing a "Black Friday Money $ale" (see first screenshot). 

And from the looks of it, the CU has created a pretty hot offer, leading with car loans as low as 1.49% with no payment due for 90 days (well after holiday spending subsides). But that’s just one of the seven holiday offers (second screenshot). The CU is also offering:

From Black Friday to Cyber Monday (Nov 23 to 26)

  • 1.49% APR* on New or Used Auto Loans 
  • 1.00% APR^ Off Unsecured Loans
  • Surcharge Free Gift Cards***
Black Friday to the End of the Year (Nov 23 to Dec 31)
  • 90 days no pay**
  • $149 Mortgage Loan Origination Fee^^
  • $49 Credit*^ with New MasterCard
  • 0.49%tt Business Loan Origination Fee


    Oklahoma Employees Credit Union homepage with Black Friday specials (Wed, 21 Nov 2012)


    Black Friday landing page (link)


    ING Direct homepage with Black Friday offers (21 Nov 2012)


    ING Direct Black Friday teaser page (link)
    Note: The bank does not reveal the actual offers until midnight Thursday



    Fine print on Oklahoma Employees Credit Union offers:

      *Annual Percentage Rate. 640+ credit score. Max term 60 months; estimated payment $17.31 per $1,000 borrowed. Min amount $10,000. Existing OECU loan min advance $2,500. Requires automatic payments and eStatements. 
      ** Borrower may defer initial auto loan payment up to 90 days. Interest will accrue from date of advance. 
      ^ Annual Percentage Rate. Reduction from regular earned rate as determined by credit score. 
      *** Up to 5 cards
      ^^ Max 12 years up to $250,000 and 75% loan-to-value as determined by appraisal or AVM. 
      *^ Initial transaction must be made by 1/10/13. Credit to be issued by 2/10/13. 
      tt Owner occupied commercial real estate. Max loan $500,000. Additional closing costs may apply. Normal lending policies apply.

      Links from My Presentation at the National Credit Union Directors’ Convention

      image Thanks to everyone who attended my presentation: Ecommerce Opportunities for Credit Unions yesterday at the CU National Directors’ Convention in Las Vegas. 

      Here are the links to the examples cited:

      Mobile banking

      Second-generation online banking (online banking 2.0)

      Connecting with people

      Mobile Banking Launch at CFE Credit Union Includes "Live" Demo on Cellphone Emulator

      image While the launch of a mobile-optimized version of your online banking site is no longer news on the national level, it’s still important for your customers. And the launch will generate many questions starting with “How much” then, “Is it secure” followed by, “How tricky is it to use.”

      That’s why I love Central Florida Educators’ Federal Credit Union’s landing page for its new mobile service (thanks to Brandon McGee for the link, see note 1). The CU makes it easy for users to get questions answered with three choices:

      • Video tour for the YouTube crowd, those willing to sit still for a few minutes while it downloads and plays
      • Live demo, where the DIY/ADD crowd can get right at it, plugging their username/password into the emulator and accessing their own account data
      • FAQs where the “manual readers” of the world can check out all the do’s and don’ts before trying it

      The CU makes it clear the offering is FREE but overlooks a key member concern: security. It is question number three of the mobile FAQ, but for those of us who don’t read manuals, a graphical security icon or link would be a good addition to the page.

      CFE Credit Union mobile banking landing page 9 July 2008

      1. CFE’s mobile service is available at <>.

      Beehive Credit Union Uses Blogging Platform to Create Custom Websites for Each Branch

      image Salt Lake City's Beehive Credit Union is launching eight microsites, one for each of its eight branches. The sites are based on a blogging template and are nearly identical.

      As you can see in the screenshot below, the only differences are:

      • Branch name and photo across the top
      • Branch name inserted into various headlines and copy throughout the site
      • Contact Us page lists only the specific branch

      URLs are based on the main site, with the branch/city name in place of the "www":

      What it means
      The Beehive sites illustrate two trends: 

      • Developing a full Web presence from a blogging template
      • Creating custom websites for geographic areas or individual branches

      While I like what Beehive is doing, I hope they take it to the next level and create a more customized experience by letting branch employees add content themselves or at least control some aspects of the microsites.

      The CU is working with Listpipe for content creation. Thanks to Jeffry Pilcher for the find.

      Beehive South Jordon site (1 July 2008)

      Beehive Credit Union South Jordan site

      Beehive Taylorsville site (1 July 2008)

      Beehive Credit Union Salt Lake City Taylorsville site July 2008

      Digital Federal Credit Union and Four Others Offer Consumer Remote Deposit Capture Through EasCorp

      VIP Deposit from Sharon Credit Union USAA is no longer the only financial institution offering consumers the ability to deposit paper checks from the comfort of home using standard home scanning technology (see previous coverage here).

      image Through DepoZip, a new offering from Massachusetts-based corporate credit union, EasCorp, five northeastern credit unions have recently begun offering remote deposit capture services for their members. In addition, Austin, TX-based Randolph-Brooks FCU is slated to launch it later this spring.

      According to its published prices, the cost is $15,000 to implement the program ($5,000 for the license and $10,000 for training), then $100/mo plus $0.40 per active user plus $0.01 per its plus applicable image processing fees which range from $0.03 to $0.14 per item. Compared to manually handling deposits at the teller window, that’s a bargain. 

      The service was piloted beginning in August last year and launched in November at Sharon Credit Union (see inset image) and Hanscom Federal Credit Union. The latest to roll it out is 300,000 member Digital Federal Credit Union. 

      Company HQ Size Service Name Launch Date
      Sharon CU Sharon, MA $590 mil assets VIP Deposit (Virtual Item Processing) Nov 2007
      Hanscom FCU Bedford, MA $280 mil assets Easy Deposit Nov 2007 (pilot began Aug 2007)
      Service CU Portsmouth, N.H. $1 billion assets   Dec 2007
      Paragon FCU Montvale, NJ $390 mil assets
      62,000 members
      eDeposit Jan 2008
      Digital FCU Marlborough, MA 320,000 members; 150,000 banking online PC Deposit Feb 2008
      (2000 members enrolled in first 3 weeks; pilot began Aug 2007)
      Randolph-Brooks FCU San Antonio, TX $3 billion assets
      250,000 members
        coming in late spring

      Zopa Credit Union Partners Give it Top Billing

      In researching our latest report on P2P lending, we visited the websites of Zopa's six credit union partners to see how they were promoting, and explaining, the relatively complicated new product. Overall, they gave Zopa surprising prominence. Five of the six mention it on their homepages, with three of those running large banners, usually in rotation with other offers (see list below as observed on Dec. 6). USA Federal Credit Union is the lone holdout, with no mention of Zopa on its website so far.

    • Addison Avenue FCU ==> Square ad on right side of hompage
    • Affinity Plus FCU ==> Banner on homepage 
    • First Tech CU ===> Two places on homepage, banner in the middle rotating with
          four offers and square box on right (see screenshot below)
    • FORUM CU ===> Small graphic and link on bottom of homepage
    • Provident CU ==> Banner on homepage rotating with four offers 
    • USA Federal CU ==> Not mentioned on website
    • Analysis
      I understand why the credit unions are featuring their Zopa relationship. It's new, it's different, it's exciting and the helping-others message fits right in with the holiday spirit. However, for the most part, the program is woefully under-explained when clicking through the banners. I have to believe the most common member reaction to seeing the Zopa product info is, "Huh?"

      It must lead to some interesting conversations on the phone and in the branch. Some of which may result in sales, so it's not all bad. But I don't think the ultimate purpose of partnering with Zopa is to confuse members to the extent that they call. There are easier ways to do that.

      First Tech CU has two images on its homepage, both emphasizing Zopa's core message of helping. And the educational aspect is helpful (see screenshot below).

      Addison Avenue CU takes a light-hearted approach on its homepage ad, saying:

      Introducing Zopa (And no, it isn't a new energy drink)

      And Addison Avenue does the best job explaining the service, although I still think it raises more questions than it answers.