2 CUs Score New Members, Loans In Black Friday Promos

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ENDICOTT, N.Y.-Retailers weren't the only beneficiaries of strong post-Thanksgiving consumer demand. At least two CUs held Black Friday specials, one netting 700 loan apps and another 585 new members.

Service CU, Portsmouth, N.H., saw the big spike in membership, primarily from its 10% Black Friday CD offer and 7% Cyber Monday certificate. The $2.5-billion Visions FCU here slashed loan rates on Black Friday and Saturday, attracting just under $10 million in new loans and 200 new members.

"Those are retail shopping days and we didn't know if people would be doing their financial business," said Jayne Searles, Visions chief marketing officer. "But I guess they did."

For two days Visions offered a 36-month auto loan at 1.99%, a 3/3 adjustable rate mortgage with first 36 months at 1.99%, and an unsecured 36-month personal loan for 2.99%. The personal loan drew the most attention, Searles reported.

Two weeks before Thanksgiving Visions blitzed local markets with teaser ads in newspapers, on radio, over e-mail, and in branches, telling consumers that "Loan Rate Madness" was coming Black Friday and Saturday, and to check newspapers on Thanksgiving for rates. "Like most retailers, we did not reveal the specials until Thanksgiving, when we took out full-page ads."

Searles said the credit union decided to offer the Black Friday specials for the first time because the CU was suffering through flat loan demand and one of its worst lending years. "We have had steady deposit growth so we were looking for ways to motivate people to borrow and let them know we have money to lend. I hate to use the term loss leader. It was really an effort to stimulate people to begin borrowing again. We're hoping we might build some consumer confidence."

Searles said Visions closed 300 of the 700 loans at press time.

Service CU, which ran successful after-Thanksgiving CD and loan specials in 2009 (Credit Union Journal, Dec. 7, 2009), jumped back into the Black Friday fray again this year with the same deals, adding a new offer on Cyber Monday.

According to the $1.7-billion CU, consumers "packed branches" on November 26 for a 10% APY three-month certificate with a $250 minimum and $1,000 maximum, 1% off personal loans, or no fees on gift cards. The sale also included $100 incentive for signing up for ServicePlus Checking with direct deposit and e-statements, and a $25 gift card for taking a Visa credit card.

On Cyber Monday only, www.servicecu.org touted a 7% APY three-month CD with $250 minimum and $1,000 maximum, along with the Black Friday Visa and checking deals.

The two-day promotion attracted 584 new members, most taking advantage of the CDs. Members bought 2,160 certificates in branches on Black Friday and 274 CDs online on Monday. Gift card purchases totaled 1,065, 141 Visa credit cards were taken out, 202 checking accounts were opened, and 53 personal loans were disbursed.

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