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PSECU rewards credit, debit card holders in annual bonus

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PSECU members woke up to a surprise in their accounts Thursday morning when the credit union doled out a $22 million reward.

PSECU's nearly half a million members received varying amounts based on credit and debit card activity, a shift from the reward last year, when the payout was based on mortgage and auto loan interest paid and dividends earned.

“The main idea is to change it each year so it’s more of a surprise and delight,” said David Misner, a spokesman for the Harrisburg-based credit union. “A lot of work goes into planning it to make it a nice surprise.”

PSECU declined to specify why those specific products were chosen to be rewarded this year, but noted annual rewards are never a guarantee and are based on the performance of the credit union.

One banking expert suggested PSECU might have chosen to reward credit and debit card holders due to the competitive nature of those products and their profitability. The expert is banking consultant Jeffrey P. Marsico of the Kafafian Group in Bethlehem. Credit and debit cards have higher interest rates than mortgage or auto loans, bringing in income for credit unions and banks.

“It’s a very competitive, market-driven rate structure, as the profitability is stronger,” Marsico said.

A solid reward system attracts existing members to get a credit or debit card, and can lure new members to sign up.

“Rewarding them solidifies their customer base and might entice others to get that product. It’s a carrot to attract new members,” Marsico said.

All PSECU members received $22 on Thursday in honor of the credit union’s 22 founding members. Members with debit cards received 5 cents to 10 cents per purchase of $10 or more in 2018. Purchases qualified for 10 cent rewards if the account had active checking and one or more qualifying monthly direct deposits of at least $500 in December 2018.

Founder’s Card holders received 50 percent of the cash rewards they earned in 2018, which are earned through its offering of up to 2 percent cash back on every purchase. Classic Card holders received 11.3 percent of the interest they paid on their cards in 2018. 

Comments on PSECU’s Facebook post announcing the reward were largely positive, with many thanking PSECU. However, at least one commenter expressed disappointment that mortgage interest didn’t count in this year’s allocation. 

“Selected by our Board of Directors, the method of distributing PSECU’s year-end reward differs from year to year,” PSECU President Greg Smith said in a prepared statement. “Not only does this allow us the ability to reward members for using a wide variety of our product and service offerings, but it also creates an element of surprise for those receiving the reward. Unexpectedly finding extra money in their account is a benefit that our members really appreciate.” 

PSECU has distributed a reward since 2013. Last year’s reward to members totaled $6 million. 

From 2013 to 2016, in addition to rewarding dividends earned and interest paid, PSECU has rewarded enrollment in services such as financial planning, e-statements, digital banking, Visa credit cards and direct deposit. 

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Mariah Chuprinski

Mariah Chuprinski

Mariah Chuprinski is the special projects editor at CPBJ. Email her at mchuprinski@cpbj.com.

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