Youth Package Offering Plastic Expected To Grow Quickly

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Riverside County's Credit Union is expecting to see a significant increase in sign-ups for a product aimed at younger members, which includes a Visa check card, now that it is promoting it.

RCCU's "MyMoney Youth Account" includes a savings account and a checking account with the check card.

The MyMoney Youth Account is available to young people 12 to 17 years old. A parent or guardian must co-sign as a joint account holder, but only the youth must meet the credit union's eligibility requirements (he or she must live, work, attend school or worship in Riverside County). There is a $25 minimum deposit per account, plus a one-time $12 membership fee. The default daily withdrawal limits are $60 at an ATM and $200 for a point-of-sale purchase; though the limits may be raised or lowered through parental consent.

Slow Roll-Out

Stephanie Redmond, e-marketing specialist for RCCU, said the credit union has quietly offered the account to young people over the past 12 months.

"We have rolled it out slowly, without promotion, but we have averaged 43 new accounts per month," she said. "We expect that number to increase dramatically when we publicize it."

RCCU is planning to launch its publicity campaign in February with brochures and in-branch posters. In April, Credit Union Youth Week kicks off at the same time as the city of Riverside's Orange Blossom Festival. Redmond said RCCU will sponsor an essay contest in conjunction with the festival to raise awareness for the youth account. The winner will receive a MyMoney Youth Account with $100.

The early adopters of the youth account have maintained a low NSF rate, Redmond said. If an item is returned, a letter is sent to the youth and to the parent or guardian.

"This is different from a regular NSF letter we would send to an adult member," she said. "It invites the young person to make an appointment with a branch representative to discuss how to balance a checkbook."

The goal, Redmond said, is to give "Generation W" the tools to learn how to handle money responsibly. Account holders have a Visa check card to make purchases at stores or online, but the money is deducted from their checking accounts, rather than going to a credit card where payment could be more easily deferred.

Redmond cited recent research by Teenage Unlimited, which identified teenagers as a huge demographic that spends lots of money, but has no financial management skills.

"And the skill level has been going down each year. We want to teach them how to save money and plan for their goals," she said. "Riverside County's Credit Union has done a lot of financial literacy education, and we want to tie it into the youth account. We want to keep youth educated, so when they grow up they will make wise money decisions."

According to Redmond, no other CU offers checking accounts to teens in Riverside County. She said Bank of America had a pre-paid Visa card for teenagers, but no checking or savings accounts.

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