Oak Brook Bank, a low-rate credit card issuer based in Illinois, offers its customers the option of earmarking money every month to put toward a savings account.
The program has been in effect for four years, offering a competitive interest rate, now at 3.50%.
Oak Brook MasterCard holders tell the bank how much money they want billed automatically to their credit card account each month. This money is transferred to their Platinum savings account at no extra charge.
"The people our savings program appeals to the most are the ones who pay their bills off," said Rosemary Burget, Oak Brook's chief financial officer. "They get the benefit of low-interest credit card use and a high-interest savings account."
On July 1, for balances over $25,000, Oak Brook added a Platinum Plus savings account interest rate of 4.27%, linked to the 13- week Treasury bill rate, which is adjusted quarterly.
Oak Brook, with 60,000 credit card accounts and $57 million in card outstandings, offers the Prime Gold MasterCard with an introductory rate of 7.75% for one year, and prime plus 4.9% thereafter with a $27 annual fee. The no-fee gold card carries a variable 14.65% rate.
The bank's Prime Silver MasterCard offers the same rates as the gold card, with a $17 annual fee or a no-fee 13.65% variable rate.
Ms. Burget said the bank is trying to build relationships with credit card customers. The savings program gives them certificate of deposit rates with the flexibility of a regular savings account.
At present, there are 520 automatic credit card savings accounts depositing $83,000 monthly with assets of $10 million. Deposits range from $25 to the maximum $1,000 per month.
"Everybody wants added value," said Ms. Burget, "so we thought a high-interest savings account tied to a credit card would attract new customers and enhance the products we have to our current customers."