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Save to Win hits $1M in savings at 6 Wash. CUs
SILVERDALE, Wash. (8/21/14)--Credit unions in Washington offering the Save to Win program achieved the major milestone of taking in more than $1 million in deposits.

Launched a little over a year ago, Save to Win is a type of prize-linked savings (PLS) account that credit unions throughout the United States are encouraging state legislatures to legalize in order to help under-banked citizens improve their savings habits.

Washington's foray into PLS demonstrates just how effective the programs can be.

Among the six credit unions offering Save to Win, 1,242 members have opened accounts as of July 31, and the average account balance was $812.39 ( Anthem Aug. 19).

"Save to Win has been a great tool for us to help our members save money in a fun and unique way," Scott Prior, president/CEO of Connection CU, Silverdale, Wash., with $27 million in assets, told Anthem. "It's interesting the looks you get from people when you explain how it works, as if it almost sounds too good to be true."

Through the yearlong program, members open a 12-month share certificate with at least $25. For every $25 they save, they earn entry into monthly and annual drawings to win prizes that range from $50 to $5,000.

While not all Save to Win participants win prizes, they do keep all the money they've put away, plus interest, at the end of the year.

"I think the synopsis is, this works," said Jim Morrell, CEO of Peninsula Community FCU, Shelton, Wash., with $149 million in assets, who told Anthem he expects more credit unions to pick up the program in future months. "It encourages people to save and they don't have any chance of losing money."

"Not enough people are in the habit of saving," Morrell added. "This can help instill that habit."

States that have passed PLS legislation include Connecticut, Maryland, Indiana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Washington, Maine and Rhode Island, with New York's own law only awaiting the signature of Gov. Andrew Cuomo ( News Now July 9).
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