When it comes to the all-important subject of college football in the state of Alabama, Regions Financial Corp. isn't scared to show its true colors.
Regions says, "Roll Tide."
To celebrate the University of Alabama's 14th national title in football, which the team won Monday night, Regions is issuing a Crimson Tide 2011 national championship checkcard. Regions also put out a card for the 2009 Crimson Tide championship team.
Regions has an exclusive deal with Alabama to issue the debit cards. When Alabama's bitter in-state rival, the Auburn Tigers, won the football national championship a year earlier, Bank of America Corp. had the honors of issuing the school's celebratory credit card.
If the LSU Tigers had defeated Alabama in Monday night's BCS National Championship Game, it appears Capital One Financial Corp. would have had the right to issue a the LSU-celebratory card. Capital One offers an LSU Tigers Platinum MasterCard credit card. Capital One did not respond to a request for comment.
The latest card from Regions does not come with rewards specific to the football team or the athletic program. The benefits are fairly standard-issue, including cash-back rewards and fraud protection.
Regions hopes to satisfy existing customers with the Crimson Tide branded cards and paper checks and perhaps pick up a few new customers, says Tom Brooks, the Birmingham, Ala., company's head of cards and payments. "We know that customers have a special affinity for their universities and pride in displaying their allegiance to their university," he says. "We also hope there are potential new customers."
The Regions Bank Crimson Tide checkcard is part of a broader promotional agreement with the university's athletic department, not the alumni association, which is the case with a number of other banks' collegiate deals, Brooks said. The Regions Bank marketing package includes signage rights at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and other athletic facilities. Regions has not disclosed terms of the deal with the university's athletic department.
Regions is slowly getting back into the credit card business, so there is no immediate plan to expand into Crimson Tide-branded credit cards, says spokeswoman Evelyn Mitchell. Regions in June agreed to acquire the $1 billion portfolio of Regions-branded credit cards from Bank of America's FIA Card Services unit.
While Regions also has sports-licensing deals with the Southeastern Conference, the Ole Miss Rebels and the Mississippi State Bulldogs, Bank of America in Charlotte, N.C., seems to be the national leader in the college-athletic licensing market. B of A has deals with many colleges, including Notre Dame and Southern California.
Bank of America even has a deal with another football team crowned national champions this year — the North Dakota State Bison. The North Dakota team claimed its first national title on Saturday, winning the Football Championship Subdivision title.