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CUs chalk up more media Frontline CNN.Money

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WASHINGTON (11/30/09)--Credit unions and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) were featured prominently last week in articles for PBS's "Frontline," CNN.Money.com, Barron's, MarketWatch, and Investor's Business Daily. PBS on its Tuesday "Frontline" program about "The Card Game" was tough on banks but did not focus on credit unions. However, at the end of the program, the announcer advised viewers to go to Frontline's website for more information, including to find out "whether credit unions are a better alternative." Frontline's website article, "A Q&A on Credit Unions," discusses what makes credit unions different and features CUNA as the primary source. It also provides links to CUNA and the National Credit Union Administration as resources. In its discussion of the advantages of credit unions, a link citing a study by Forrester Research Inc., which found credit unions received much higher customer satisfaction ratings than banks, actually goes to a News Now article, "CUs tops in Forrester consumer opinion survey" (May 27). It also provides references and links to CUNA's credit union locator and findacu.com, and provides comparisons from Datatrac that shows credit unions' favorable rates. In its section on credit cards, the article cites the Pew Charitable Trusts study that found credit unions' cards had better rates than banks' cards.. It also discusses overdrafts and quotes North Carolina State Employees' CU CEO Jim Blaine. Use the link to the article for more detail. Also in the news, a CNN.Money.com story on "5 reasons banks don't get it (and a few banks that do" cites credit unions among banks "that do" get it in the category of "delivering real service." San Francisco Fire FCU was noted as allowing members to get free FICO scores four times a year. In other coverage:
* MarketWatch featured a Barron's video on credit card fees and it cites the Pew study that was favorable for credit unions; * Mike Schenk, senior economist for CUNA, was featured in "Investor's Business Daily" discussing the economy. See News Now's related story in the Market section, "2% growth thru 2010, Schenk to "Investor's Biz Daily." * Bankrate.com featured an article "Should You Get a Credit Union Credit Card." See related story in News Now's System section for "Bankrate: Should you get a CU credit card? Yes."
To access the articles, use the links.

New Orleans CU launches Safety Net payday alternative

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METAIRIE, La. (11/30/09)--Greater New Orleans FCU (GNOFCU) has introduced a new program--Safety Net Solutions--for members whose financial futures may be without any sense of security. The program provides members with two products: Safety Net Advance and Safety Net Savings. Developed as a payday loan alternative, the program delivers additional safety features that separate it from the financial pitfalls of conventional payday loans. The program is designed so members can avoid the high risks of the payday loan cycle and build good credit. The maximum Safety Net Advance allowed is $300 with a 30-day repayment term. After three months, participants must complete a BALANCE Financial Fitness training module to continue to participate in the Safety Net Solutions Program. Safety Net Savings helps members develop healthy savings habits, GNOFCU said. With each cash advance, 10% will be automatically deposited in a savings account. Once $500 is accrued, GNOFCU will release $250 for withdrawal. The savings account earns interest, but does not allow ATM access. The goal is to have members create stable savings habits, and to set aside enough money for a secured share loan to establish good credit. GNOFCU, based in Metairie, La., has more than $97 million in assets.

Iowa league decides not to buy bank

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DES MOINES, Iowa (11/30/09)-The Iowa Credit Union League (ICUL) has decided to withdraw its application to purchase CreditCard National Bank of Tucson, Ariz. “Since filing the applications, we have learned that in response to the current economic environment, regulatory requirements would be imposed upon our business model which would not allow us to effectively serve our members,” said Iowa league President/CEO Patrick Jury. “Therefore, we have decided to withdraw our applications and explore other resolutions to our member needs. Iowa Corporate will continue to operate as usual throughout this timeframe,” Jury said. “Our commitment at ICUL and Iowa Corporate has been to partner with Iowa credit unions to bring this process to a positive resolution for the benefit of our members,” he added. The league filed an application in September after an extensive due diligence process. ICUL and Iowa Corporate Central CU aimed to meet the future needs of members and to find a suitable alternative for Iowa credit unions as Iowa Corporate evaluates its future direction, Jury said.

Social media opportunities growing for CUs

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WASHINGTON (11/30/09)--About 240 credit unions use Twitter, and more than 800 use Facebook, according to a recent survey on credit unions’ use of social media. The study, conducted by Callahan and Associates, indicates that credit unions are part of a growing business population that is using Twitter and Facebook to connect with a younger demographic. “It’s important for credit unions to keep in touch with younger members and to understand the new ways this member segment communicates,” said Denise Senecal, Callahan research manager. Ent FCU, Colorado Springs, Colo., launched a Facebook page last year to support the credit union’s university branch. “We quickly found we were reaching more than just our student members,” said Victoria Selfridge, director of marketing and e-commerce. “A recent social media survey showed that 44% of Ent members actively use social media websites--and of those members, 90% use Facebook. “With Facebook, we try to post information to our fans’ news feed just a few times each month, while with Twitter, we try to post a minimum of one tweet a day,” she added. Ent uses Facebook for online contests and to share information and photos. The credit union employs Twitter to promote free financial education events and community involvement activities. It also regularly searches social media sites to track what is being talked about. “You need to be aware of what is being said--good and bad,” Selfridge said. University FCU, Austin, Texas, also uses social media and found that more than just high-school or college-age students use Facebook. “We found of our 379 Facebook fans, only 18% were 18 or younger, 64% were 25-44 and the remaining 18% were age 45-plus,” said Lyndee Bennett, marketing media project manager. Through Twitter and Facebook, University FCU had a welcome-back student promotion--the Twenty09 Challenge. Members created videos that showed ways to use $20.09. The contest became a viral hit, the credit union said. Callahan also surveyed credit union members about their use of social media. It found:
* Younger members, under age 29, spend the most time on social network sites; * Younger members want and expect interactive communication from social media sites; * Facebook is the most widely used social network site among credit union members; * Half of members surveyed said they would read a credit union’s Facebook page periodically; * Members’ awareness of credit unions’ Facebook pages ranged from 5% to 16%; * Members said they learn about Facebook pages through credit union websites; * Thirty-four percent of Twitter users surveyed said they follow companies with which they do business; and * Members using Twitter expect their credit union to provide information like fraud alerts (71%), special offers (60%), financial tips (58%) and rate specials (57%).
Callahan will offer a webinar on social media Dec. 10 titled, “Engaging Members through Social Media: Challenges and Opportunities.” The webinar will focus on implementing and enhancing social media initiatives, and the results of the social media survey. Senecal is scheduled to speak at the event.

IBankrateI Should you get a CU credit card Yes

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MADISON, Wis. (11/30/09)--A credit card issued from a credit union can be a better choice than a bank-issued card in the current environment of rising bank card fees and rates, Bankrate.com said Wednesday. Because of their member-owned, nonprofit orientation, credit unions usually offer more reasonable rates and fees on cards than banks, the website said. “Median advertised interest rates on credit union cards were about 20% lower than on bank cards, according to a July study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, which compared credit cards from the 12 largest credit unions and 12 largest banks,” Bankrate said. “The median late and over-limit fee was $20 at credit unions and $39 at banks.” “Bottom line, the credit unions are offering lower upfront rates, with lower fees and less risk of unfair or deceptive practices,” Nick Bourke, author of the report and manager of the Pew Safe Credit Cards Project, told Bankrate. However, not every consumer will be a good fit for credit union cards, Bankrate added. The more generous rebates of major bank card issuers may be preferable for rewards cardholders, while consumers with large balances and high interest rates would benefit from a credit union card. To read the article and to see a list of pros and cons for credit union credit cards, use the link. Also, a similar article appeared in Barron’s about the Pew Charitable Trusts study. Use the link for a video.

CUNAs Mad City Money game a hit at CNYIN event

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ONTARIO, Calif. (11/30/09)--Several individuals said they will implement Mad City Money at their credit unions after participating
Cathy Arra, California and Nevada Youth Involvement Network, helps Mark Davey, CEO of Antelope Valley CU, Lancaster, Calif., purchase a home during a Mad City Money simulation.
Click to view larger imageMike Jones, branch manager at Educational Employees CU, Fresno, Calif., and California and Nevada Youth Involvement Board member, participated in a recent Mad City Money simulation by working as the manager of a credit union.
Click to view larger imageMarlene Myers, California and Nevada Youth Involvement Network vice chairman, and Bruce Milgrom, Modesto's First FCU CEO, Modesto, Calif., were among 25 participants in a Mad City Money simulation at the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ annual meeting and convention.(Photos provided by the California and Nevada Credit Union League)
in the program at the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ Annual Meeting and Convention. “This program gets students immersed in an adult world complete with an income, responsibilities such as children and debt, and gets them to make real-world decisions such as home and auto purchases, monthly bills, paying down debt and saving for the future,” said Wendy Zanotelli, chief operating officer of UNCLE CU, Livermore, Calif. Rick Hoffman, CEO of Inland Empire CU in Pomona, Calif., and Mark Davey, CEO of Antelope Valley FCU, Lancaster, Calif., agreed. “It is a great first step for high school students,” Hoffman said. Mad City Money, a simulation game sponsored by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), allows participants to build a budget and tackle financial responsibilities, such as buying a home or paying off debt. The game targets youth. It was offered by the California and Nevada Youth Involvement Network (CNYIN) at the leagues’ conference. Twenty-five credit union CEOs, volunteers and employees participated. Participants were given financial responsibilities--from selecting housing, and transportation, and buying food and other necessities--while building a budget. They also could visit a credit union in the simulated “town” for financial advice. Representatives from Silver State Schools CU, Las Vegas; Caroline Lane, senior vice president, CO-OP Financial Services; Dean Archer, CUNA vice president of sales and strategic business development, and CNYIN board members, acted as merchants.