‘Save to Win’ Accounts Now Open in Washington Credit Unions

“It’s a win-win situation,” announced an eye-catching, online appeal to O Bee Credit Union’s members just hours after Save to Win launched in Washington. The website invited members to open Save to Win accounts for the chance to build their assets while vying for prize drawings of up to $5,000.

Obee’s Lee Wojnar, who played a key role convincing the state legislature to authorize prize-linked savings accounts, was featured in an article in Sunday’s Seattle Times. “The whole idea is to entice people to save,” Wojnar said.

OBee is one of six credit unions now offering Washington consumers the opportunity to open prize-linked savings accounts. Fibre, Connection, Express, TwinStar and North Coast also launched the program yesterday. Washington became the fourth state offering Save to Win, joining Michigan, Nebraska and North Carolina.

The launching credit unions in Washington are going all-out to build awareness for Save to Win. Fibre Federal Credit Union, for example, has advertisements running on five radio stations in Cowlitz County and surrounding areas. The credit union produced a high-energy video and flyers, and has electronic promotion on TV screens in all eight of its branches.

“Fibre Federal is thrilled to be part of this incredible program,” said Marketing Specialist Angie Leppert. “For our members, it’s an opportunity to open a savings account and make affordable contributions. This product makes it easy! Plus, with the added bonus of entries to win monthly cash prizes and a grand prize of $5,000, it’s truly a win-win!”

Marketing isn’t the only technique credit unions are using to raise awareness. Connection Credit Union has worked closely with the Asset Building Coalition in Kitsap County to reach out to consumers who most need to start saving money.

“As a small credit union, we are still interested in serving members and potential members of modest means,” said Scott Prior, CEO. “We feel the attributes of this product and savings “lottery” could potentially help us gain traction with those consumers. The program should help consumers build strong savings habits.”

North Coast Credit Union CEO Terry Belcoe was an early advocate of prize-linked savings programs.

“We expect the Save to Win program to augment and enhance our tactical efforts to reach the under-served and under-banked consumers in our communities,” said Angie Strunk, Outreach Coordinator. “Our passion is to help people prosper and thrive at every stage in life and this is just the right thing to do.”

For each $25 deposit savers make in their Save to Win accounts, they receive a chance to win a drawing for monthly and annual cash prizes. The lottery-like appeal is expected to generate interest in the program as savers have a chance to win $50-$5,000 prizes. However, there is no risk for the consumers. They money they deposit stays in their accounts and is not used to fund the prize drawings. The prize pool is being funded for the first three years by Strategic Link, the service corporation for the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA).

 The NWCUA lobbied for passage of legislation and helped the launching credit unions implement the program. Logistics of the program such as legal review, prize drawings, marketing and other operations oversight, is being provided by CU Solutions Group, a subsidiary of the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL). Save to Win was first launched by a group of Michigan credit unions in 2009. To date, nearly 12,000 accounts are open in Michigan, resulting in $28 million in savings by the account holders.

 

Questions? Contact Assistant Vice President, Operations Monica Titley: 206.340.4844, mtitley@nwcua.org.

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