Big Rewards Increase Member Engagement

Community Choice has given back more than $6 million in credits and rebates in four years and is the primary financial institution for nearly 70% of members.

Four years ago,Community Choice Credit Union($882.5M, Farmington Hills, MI) started its GetBigReward$ program with two goals in mind. First, the credit union wanted the program to serve as a de facto yearly patronage dividend. Second, Community Choice wanted to create an incentive for members to use more products and services.

We believe members who use more of our products and services are more loyal, says Alan Bergstrom, the credit union’s chief marketing officer and senior vice president of strategic development.

To that end, GetBigReward$ is a relationship-based rewards program that benefits credit union members who carry more products and services with the community-chartered credit union. And in 2016, more than half of the cooperative’s members benefitedfinancially in some way from the program.

Earn Big Rewards

Community Choice breaks GetBigReward$ into four levels Copper, Silver, Gold, and Emerald. Members fall into a level based on their engagement with the credit union.

GetBigReward$ Levels

GetBigReward$ Level Credit Union Offerings Held
Copper 0-2
Silver 3-5
Gold 6-7
Emerald 8+

Source: Community Choice Credit Union


In addition to earning reward credits for certain products and behaviors, Gold members also earn a $3 monthly reward credit and Emerald members earn $9. Copper and Silver levels do not offer a level-based rewards component.

Members may use credits to pay down any fee during the year, for example, a wire transfer or overdraft protection fee. Whatever credits members don’t use over the course of the year the credit union converts to cash.

In addition, Gold and Emerald members are eligible for an annual loan interest rebate of up to 10% on auto, secured, recreational vehicle, and personal loans.

That rebate is set by our board each year, but it’s been 10% since the program’s inception, says Bergstrom. So, our members can see a significant chunk of money.

More Than Products And Services

All told, 21 offerings including checking accounts, auto loans, mortgages, IRAs, and several of its credit card products are eligible for GetBigReward$.

Click here to see a summary handout the credit union uses, complete with a full listing of the products and services the institution counts, as well as additional program information.

But GetBigReward$ is not solely product-based. For example, 15 or more debit card transactions per month counts as an offering. As do online banking, bill pay, and e-statements.

And not all offerings are weighted the same, either. Generally, individual offerings count as one credit point. But the credit union offers two credit points for a $6-monthly-fee checking account it introduced earlier this year as an incentive to usethe product.

Overall, Community Choice wants to make it easy for members to achieve Emerald status and, generally, receive benefits for their credit union relationship.

You can get to eight offerings pretty easily, Bergstrom says. Most members have eight of these offerings, they just might not have them at the same institution.

The credit union evaluates its GetBigReward$ offerings every year to ensure relevancy and make adjustments. Later this year, it will remove its holiday savings account from its list of offerings because so few members use that account. The credit unionhasn’t yet decided what will replace it.

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A Sales Tool With Verified Results

Community Choice’s personal advisors reference a GetBigReward$ summary handout when onboarding new members. Advisorswalk members through the checklist to show them how many offerings they use and highlight rewards potential if the member held all at the credit union.

They see the money they could get back at the end of the year, Bergstrom says. It’s a great sales tool. But why is it called GetBigReward$?

A registered trademark, the name, says Bergstrom, is attention-grabbing and action-oriented. It provides a clear call-to-action for members.

Not everyone understands what dividend means, he says. But rewards? That gets your attention.

And it really pays.

Per Bergstrom, here’s how the program has paid out members in terms of credits and interest payments each of the past four years.

GetBigReward$ Results

Credits Received Loan Interest Payments Visa Credit Card Interest Payments Total
2013* $886,000 $146,342 $88,358 $1,120,700
2014 $1,254,907 $169,364 $96,991 $1,521,262
2015 $1,486,694 $201,428 $121,761 $1,809,883
2016 $1,811,878 $251,166 $0** $2,063,044
Total $6,514,889

*Denotes partial year data

**The credit union discontinued this rebate in 2016

The credit union also tracks how many members fall into each of the program’s four levels. At year-end 2016, 28,923 members fell into either the Emerald or Gold levels. That’s roughly 35% of members, and Community Choice projects that figurewill grow 9% over the course of 2017.

Just as important, 26,614 members qualified for Silver status at year-end 2016. That means, cumulatively, 55,537 members hold three or more offerings with the credit union.

Community Choice considers itself the primary financial institution for members who hold three or more offerings with the credit union. Based on that definition, it is the primary financial institution for nearly 70% of its membership.

We always talk about giving big to our members and our community, Bergstrom says. This is part of that. Everybody loves a reward.

May 22, 2017

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