Redstone FCU First CU To Sign Up For 'VISA Extras'

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Visa USA has introduced "Visa Extras," and Redstone FCU in Huntsville, Ala., has become the first credit union to participate.

The new payment card rewards program "could help Visa member financial institutions deliver rewards opportunities to more consumer and small business cardholders than any other existing rewards program," according to the company.

"The program is specifically designed to reward cardholders when they use their enrolled Visa payment cards for everyday expenditures, such as travel, office supplies, groceries, gas, bills, clothing, dining and entertainment," Visa explained.

Cardholders may redeem Visa Extras points for more than 100 rewards available from companies that include, Barnes & Noble, BP Amoco, GAP, Marriott, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, Staples and Starbucks.

Cardholders can redeem points frequently for everyday-type rewards, such as a $5 certificate at a Visa Extras rewards partner merchant, or save their points to redeem less frequently for higher value rewards to be used to acquire fine merchandise or a hotel stay.

Redstone Federal said it wanted to reward members for using their FreedomCheck Card or Mpower Debit Cards when making purchases. RFCU said it had put significant research into designing its own custom points-reward program before learning of the Visa program, which required six weeks to set up.

It was tested briefly with 21 members, and since launch some 2,200 members have enrolled.

The $1.6-billion RFCU said it is not charging for participation in its program, although other financial institutions may do so.

What Small Business Wants

Visa said its research has found that nearly 70% of small business owners say payment cards would be a lot more valuable if they received rewards for the everyday expenditures associated with running their business, such as supplies, vehicle expenses or bill payment.

"More than two-thirds of these same small business owners say the problem with current small business rewards programs is waiting a long time and spending a lot to earn rewards," Visa said. "Most small business owners would also like the ability to combine points from their business and personal cards within a single rewards program.

"Visa Extras was designed to help address these needs of small business owners in both earning points and redeeming their points for meaningful rewards," it continued.

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