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Truliant FCU Raises Fear of Being Declined in New Website Pitch for Opt-in Debit Card Overdraft Protection

By Jim Bruene on June 10, 2010 3:50 PM | Comments (1)

image Three weeks ago I noticed that North Carolina-based Truliant Federal Credit Union had posted a highly visible opt-in overdraft pitch on its login page (see screenshot #5, below). I checked back today and found that the CU is still running a login page ad, albeit smaller (ss #2), and has also taken the message to its homepage (ss #1).

The new ads are more fear-based compared to the previous friend-of-the-customer approach (see note 1). In addition, the 180,000-member CU has moved to an online opt-in form (ss #4). Previously, customers could only ask for someone to contact them (ss #6).

Truliant has considerably simplified the landing-page message. In May, it offered a credit line option in addition to the simple $29-per-item system (ss #6). Apparently, that wasn't working as well as hoped. Now, members clicking on either the homepage or login-page promo receive a short, semi-urgent message (ss #3) that links to the online opt-in form.

Analysis: While I think the CU does an adequate job explaining the new opt-in options (see note 2 for suggested improvements), I'm disappointed it moved away from giving the credit line option equal billing. With an APR of 6.5% to 11.5% and no transaction/advance fees, it's a much more cost-effective option (note 3).   

1. Truliant FCU homepage visitors receive a large homepage pitch to opt-in for overdraft protection (10 June 2010)
Note: It must be a brand new banner since the underlying hyperlink, after the ads have cycled once, has a typo causing it to lead to an error page (9:25 AM PDT)


2. Overdraft protection message on login page (link, 10 June 2010)


3. Landing page (link, 10 June 2010)       4. Opt-in form (link,10 June 2010)
Click to enlarge                                           Click to enlarge

image    image

5. Previous login page had two ads for OD protection (20 May 2010)


6. Previous landing page included a line-of-credit option (link, 20 May 2010)
Note: In May there was no online opt-in form; interested members could only select a "contact me" button. The landing page now links to the form shown in #4 above.


I hate singling out Truliant for this post. It has one of the best blogs in all of banking that does a great job educating and connecting with members. And because the CU has done a decent job with the overdraft opt-in process, I'd give it a B or B- grade. But my job is to look for potential improvements, so here goes.

1. Is making members afraid of using their Truliant debit card really a good way to endear them to the brand? Sure, the ads are likely to produce clickthroughs and they definitely don't cross over into the misleading category, but is there a little "crying wolf" here? Something to think about.

2. Other suggestions for improvement:

  • The three choices on the online form are not as clear as they could be. The most popular choice, number 2, has both a YES and NO in it. That's the kind of wording that gives your members a headache. It would be far simpler if you just asked customers to tell you which types of transactions they want covered:
       A. Paper checks and automatic drafts (yes/no)
       B. Debit card transactions that don't require a PIN (yes/no)
  • The landing page confuses the matter by using three different terms (debit without PIN, debit, and signature debit) without providing a detailed definition. At minimum, a link to a clear definition of the term should be included.
  • The landing page says you have to "opt in again by August 15." That sounds like I need to do something now and something again later this summer.
  • The "nightmare" scenario presented on the landing page, being denied at the grocery store POS when you have a hungry family to feed, is a good example of the downside of not electing to have debit-card OD protection. And even though the $29 charge is mentioned in the previous paragraph, members skimming the landing page may still not understand it will cost them $29 to avoid this embarrassment/hassle. I'd go overboard here and place an asterisk by this line and disclose the $29 fee again in fine print at the bottom.  

3. If the problem is that it's too hard to qualify for the credit line, the CU should consider a higher-APR and/or more-fee version for riskier members.

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Hi. I think everything you said in this write up is pretty much true. I am currently conducting a study about online credit card applications and other credit account information and somehow, Google led me to this. I think I'll be visiting your blog more often from now on.

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