SAN FRANCISCO and MADISON, Wis., April 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- At a time when U.S. consumer debt is rapidly approaching $2.5 trillion(1), SaveUp (www.saveup.com), the nation's first free rewards program for saving money and reducing debt, announced today that 20 credit unions across the U.S. were selected to participate in an innovative new pilot to evaluate the motivational effects that prizes and rewards have on helping consumers make better financial choices. As part of the pilot, the credit unions will distribute a customized version of SaveUp directly to their members. The Filene Research Institute, the leading non-profit think tank with a long record of bringing innovative ideas to life for consumers through credit unions, will work with SaveUp and the credit unions to track usage, monitor member feedback, and compile results of the pilot.
Among the credit unions from 15 states participating in the SaveUp/Filene Research Institute pilot are Northeast Credit Union, Eli Lilly Credit Union, and Xceed Financial Credit Union. Combined, the credit unions have more than 1.2 million accounts and over $15 billion in assets. These credit unions join SaveUp's growing list of financial partners, including Bank of the West, Plastyc UPside Pre-paid Visa Card, and others. SaveUp is free for anyone banking at more than 19,000 U.S. financial institutions.
"Our research shows that when financial institutions find ways to make saving fun, consumers save," said Filene Research Institute CEO, Mark Meyer. "As Americans start rebuilding their financial lives from the Great Recession, we are excited to help credit unions explore new ways of facilitating and encouraging positive financial behaviors."
SaveUp rewards users each time they contribute to their savings or retirement accounts; pay down their credit cards, mortgages, or other loans; or engage with SaveUp's financial education content. For each positive financial activity, SaveUp users earn credits that can be redeemed for the opportunity to win exciting or life-changing prizes. Brands like Virgin America, TurboTax, and Banana Republic are sponsoring prizes to reward Americans for their financial success. Since the site's launch in November, users have deposited over $29.5 million to savings and paid down over $25.3 million of debt. Hundreds of people have won prizes such as cash, retail gift cards, consumer electronics, free air travel, shopping sprees, experiential rewards, and a $1,000 savings deposit.
"Credit card rewards have focused on driving spending. SaveUp is the alternative model to help Americans recover from the recession, and to help financial institutions build a deeper relationship with their customers as they accomplish their goals," said Priya Haji, co-founder and CEO of SaveUp. "While forward-thinking institutions, like the 20 credit unions participating in our pilot, clearly recognize SaveUp's potential to drive deposits and create stronger customer relationships, the goal of the pilot is to demonstrate how incentivizing more positive financial behaviors can lead to more financially secure customers and better customer relationship management."
SaveUp had to expand the pilot to 20 credit unions due to high demand and was unable to accommodate all 80 credit unions that attended a recent webinar hosted by the Filene Research Institute in January. With the current economic and regulatory climate making it difficult for many credit unions and smaller institutions to support reward programs on their own, SaveUp is providing an innovative, new approach.
Select credit unions participating in the SaveUp/Filene Research Institute pilot include:
- California: Xceed Financial Credit Union
- Colorado: Credit Union of the Rockies
- Indiana: Eli Lilly Federal Credit Union
- Michigan: Frankenmuth Credit Union
- Missouri: Arsenal Credit Union
- New Hampshire: St. Mary's Bank Credit Union, Northeast Credit Union
- New Mexico: Southwest Federal Credit Union
- New York: GPO Federal Credit Union
- Oregon: Oregon Employees Federal Credit Union, Providence Federal Credit Union
- Texas: Neighborhood Credit Union
- Virginia: Belvoir Federal Credit Union
- Wisconsin: Summit Credit Union, Fox Communities Credit Union
Founded in 2011, San Francisco-based SaveUp created the first, free nationwide rewards program that encourages Americans to save money, pay down their debts and make positive changes to their financial behaviors. By partnering with major consumer brands and financial institutions, SaveUp gives users the opportunity to win exciting or life-changing prizes for performing positive financial actions. The company is funded by BlueRun Ventures and True Ventures. To get rewarded for your positive financial actions or to partner with SaveUp as a bank or sponsor, please visit us at www.saveup.com.
About Filene Research Institute
The Filene Research Institute is 501(c)3 non-profit think tank dedicated to scientific and thoughtful analysis about issues affecting the future of consumer finance and the $950 billion asset North American credit union industry. Through Filene, leading scholars and consultants analyze managerial problems, public policy questions, and consumer needs for the benefit of the 100 million members North American credit unions serve.
(1) (Source: U.S. Federal Reserve's G.19 report on consumer credit, February 2012)