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Holiday Website Promotions at the Top 20 Banks

By Jim Bruene on December 26, 2013 6:05 PM | Comments

Banks have ratcheted up the design aspects of their websites substantially during the past 18 months. But in my annual look at holiday website designs, I found little change over past years. Only nine of the 20 largest U.S. banks displayed any holiday graphics or promos this year. That's one more than last year, but still one less than 2010.

Here's a rundown of the 2013 holiday UIs:

Once again PNC Bank led the pack with its three-decades-long holiday CPI (Christmas present index). Zions Bank and Comerica (with the same promo as last year) were decked out in full-screen holiday graphics. Union Bank, BB&T, US Bank, TD Bank and Wells Fargo also displayed notable holiday imagery. Chase just hinted at the holidays, earning a single bulb.

Many smaller banks and credit unions post creative holiday imagery. For example, Austin, TX-based Amplify Credit Union ran four holiday elements on its hompage on Christmas Eve (see last screenshot).

The scrooge list: top-20 banks with no holiday promotions or graphics on 24 Dec 2013: 
Bank of America, Bank of the West (BNP Paribas), Capital One, Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct), Citizens (RBS), Fifth Third, Harris Bank (BMO), HSBC, Key Bank, SunTrust, Union Bank (Mitsubishi UFJ)

Following is a quick overview of the promotions, including a 1- to 5-bulb rating.

Previous year-end holiday posts: 2012, 2011 (big banks), 2011 (CUs/community banks), 2009 part 1, 2009 part 2, 2007, 2006, 2006, 2004

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Big banks in the holiday spirit
(rated from 1 to 5 bulbs; screenshots from Tuesday morning, 24 Dec 2013)

PNC Bank

  • Animated Gift Maker tied to its annual 12 Days of Christmas CPI price index (which it's published for 30 years)
  • Visa Gift Card promo (lower left)

Score: imageimageimageimageimage

Hompage: PNC is leading with its Gift Maker and 12 days of Christmas price index

image

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Comerica

  • Large gift card in main promo area (#3 in 4-promo rotation) with engaging holiday graphics
  • Gift card promo in bottom center position with green background

Score: imageimageimageimage

image

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Zions Bank

  • Default "Merry Christmas" message with holiday graphics across the page (#1 of 4-promo rotation)

Score: imageimageimageimage

image

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Union Bank

  • Rewards credit card (#2 in 3-promo rotation)

Score: imageimageimage

image 

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BB&T

  • Checking account promo with holiday graphics
  • Small Visa gift card promo near the bottom of the page

Score: imageimageimage

image

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TD Bank

  • Holiday budgeting tips

Score: imageimage

Homepage

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Landing page

image

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US Bank

  • Customers (1st screenshot) saw some PFM messaging, the "Holiday money manager," which was touting the bank's online banking and alert functions (U.S. Bank does not offer advanced PFM functions)
  • Non-customers (2nd screenshot) saw a "Tis the season" checking-account promo

Score: imageimage

Hompage displayed to visitors known to be customers (via cookies)

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Homepage displayed to non-customers

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Wells Fargo

  • Holiday message in lower left (below the fold)
  • Plush pony for opening new account

Score: imageimage

image

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Chase Bank

  • Credit card offer: "Save on holiday balances and new purchases"

Score: image

image

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Bonus standout: Amplify Credit Union

  • Holiday bells integrated with logo
  • Skip-a-payment promo to free up holiday cash, with humorous holiday graphic
  • Holiday closures schedule
  • No payments until 2014 on auto loans

Score: imageimageimageimage

image

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Notes:
1. Observations taken between 9 AM and Noon, Pacific Time, on Tue, 24 Dec 2013, from Seattle IP address, Chrome browser with cookies cleared
2. Animation from http://www.millan.net/anims/christmas.html#

Comments

Tuition.IO Offers the Gift of Student Loan Repayment

By Jim Bruene on December 19, 2013 12:05 PM | Comments

image This time of year I'm always on the lookout for financial companies doing something interesting for the holidays. Gift cards are the obvious opportunity, but there are other financial products that make good holiday gifts as well (stocks, mutual funds, savings bonds, and so on).

But it took a startup, Finovate alum Tuition.io (see FinovateFall 12 demo), to come up with one of the most valuable gifts yet: student loan repayment.

It's not as exciting as $100 to blow at Nordstrom (note 1), but the long-term value is pretty enticing, especially if the former student gets a number of them over the years. And it's the perfect gift from grandparents or aunt/uncle who probably don't have a clue what gift card to choose anyway.

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How it works
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It's as easy as sending an electronic Applebee's gift card.

1. The giver completes a simple form naming the recipient, amount (from $5 to $500), date of delivery (email) and custom message (see screenshot #3).

2. Payment is made via credit card (screenshot #4).

3. Recipient redeems by providing student loan info to Tuition.io.

Fine print:

A. Neither the giver nor recipient need have a previous relationship with Tuition.io.

B. The gift can be used only for principal reduction, not monthly payments.

C. There is a 6.5% transaction fee (3% for the card processer and 3.5% for Tuition.io). Like those pesky shipping charges on ecommerce sites, the amount is not revealed until the final confirmation screen (screenshot #5)

D. If the recipient does not redeem before the expiration date, the money goes back to the giver, less the transaction fee.

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Bottom line
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This has great potential for banks. A simple form to deposit cash or pay down bank loans/cards is a welcome service for holiday, birthday and graduations. The Tuition.io is nearly a perfect example of how to build one. The only serious weakness is lack of disclosure of the 6.5% transaction fee until the last screen. While $19.50 to send a $300 repayment is not outlandish, it leaves a slightly bad taste when disclosed so late in the process. Why not be upfront with it? It would just add to the credibility of what the startup is doing.

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1. Tuition.io homepage (18 Dec 2013)
Note: "Give a gift" promo in upper right corner

image

2. Tuition.io gifts landing page (link)
It's pretty clear what the startup is pushing this holiday season

 image

3. Dynamic gift certificate form
Note: The virtual "card" is updated as the form is completed

image

4. Payment via credit card

image

5. Final confirmation screen shows service fee

image 

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1. We usually package a small retail gift card with the student loan payment, so it's not completely boring.

Comments

Zions Bank Supports its Brand with Holiday Graphics

By Jim Bruene on January 2, 2013 8:01 PM | Comments

image Before we move on to more weighty matters, here's one last example from Holiday 2012.  Zions Bank had the most decked out website we've observed in the past two weeks. Because it ranks just outside the 20 largest U.S. banks, it didn't make last week's holiday roundup. But since it was so decked out, I thought it was worth a followup.

On New Years Day, Zions had holiday-related messages playing on three of its six rotating homepage themes.

  • EZ Budget, its budgeting tool that helps track and manage spending for an event (previous coverage of the tool)
  • General mobile banking pitch with a "tracking holiday spending" use case
  • Happy New Year greeting

Bottom line: Without breaking the bank, Zions projects a timely, modern look that supports its brand.

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Zions Bank hompage featuring EZ Budget spending tracker (1 Jan 2012)

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Zions Bank homepage featuring mobile banking wrapped in holiday theme

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Zions Bank homepage with "Happy New Year" greeting

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Comments

Happy New Year: Stanford Federal Credit Union Offers Refi Auto Loans to Start the Year Right

By Jim Bruene on January 1, 2013 4:23 PM | Comments

image Besides losing weight and hitting the gym more often, financial matters dominate the New Year's resolution list. Spend less. Save more. And in general, just be smarter about your money. During this brief window of rational thinking, financial institutions would be wise to promote these smart products and services.

But in a fairly exhaustive search today (31 Dec 2012), looking at the 40 largest U.S. banks and at least that many credit unions (note 1), we found only  one New Year-themed promotion (note 2), a 1.49% auto-refi offer from Stanford Federal Credit Union (see below).

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Stanford FCU homepage (31 Dec 2012)

image

Landing page for New Year promo

image

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Notes:
1. The first 40 to 50 credit unions listed in the Google results when searching "credit union" from a Seattle IP address.
2. Several credit unions posted well wishes and holiday hours on their homepages. Also, Fifth Third has a "celebrate 2013" message on its homepage as we reported last week.
3. Picture from New Year email and infographic by Finovate alum, Kiboo

Comments

Holiday Website Promos at the Top-20 Banks

By Jim Bruene on December 24, 2012 11:43 AM | Comments

In my annual look at holiday offerings from major banks, I found that Scrooge still roams the halls at many of the big names. Only eight of the 20 largest U.S. banks are using holiday-themed promotions or graphics (note 1). That's one more than last year, but still two less than 2010.

As usual, PNC Bank is the exception with their two-decade long holiday CPI (Christmas present index). BB&T, Comerica and Fifth Third are also festive this year with gift card promotions supported by seasonal graphics. And US Bank, Citi, Key and Regions Bank used some holiday imagery.   

The scrooge list: top-20 banks with no holiday promotions or graphics on Dec. 20): 
Bank of America, Bank of the West (BNP Paribas), Capital One, Chase, Citizens (RBS), Harris Bank (BMO), HSBC, ING Direct (Capital One), SunTrust, TD Bank, Union Bank (Mitsubishi UFJ), Wells Fargo

Following is a quick overview of the promotions, including a 1-to 5-bulb rating.

Previous year-end holiday posts: 2011 (big banks), 2011 (CUs/community banks), 2009 part 1, 2009 part 2, 2007, 2006, 2006, 2004

_____________________________________________________________________

Big banks in the holiday spirit
(rated 1 to 5 bulbs; screenshots from Thursday, Dec 20)

PNC Bank

  • Gift Hunt tied to its Christmas CPI (based on the song 12 Days of Christmas)
  • Visa Gift Card promo (in rotation of four homepage promotions)

Score: imageimageimageimageimage

Hompage: PNC is leading with its 12 days of Christmas price index

image

PNC Bank microsite with gift hunt link

image

Also running gift card promo in rotation

image

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BB&T (20 Dec 2012)

  • Holiday themed graphic featuring mobile check deposit
  • Small ad for gift cards

imageimageimageimage

image

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Fifth Third

  • Rotation of three holiday themed promotions
    -- Holiday billpay sweeps
    -- New Years savings promo
    -- Gift cards

imageimageimageimage

image

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Comerica

  • Prominent gift card promo across page and in lower-left corner

imageimageimageimage

image

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Key Bank

  • Holiday graphic, but no product promotion

imageimage

image

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Citibank

  • Toy shopping background image

imageimage

image

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US Bank

  • Pitch for online banking, convenient while shopping

image

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Regions Bank

  • Small saving money tips

image

image

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Notes:
1. Observations taken between 2pm and 3pm Pacific on Thurs Dec 20 from Seattle IP address, Chrome browser with no cookies
2. Animation from http://www.millan.net/anims/christmas.html#

Comments

12/12/12 Credit Union Promotions

By Jim Bruene on December 12, 2012 12:12 PM | Comments

imageLast year, we were disappointed at the lack of promotions on double-triple-digit day, finding just a single promo 11/11/11 promotion (see our post on Notre Dame FCU). But it was Veteran's Day and most U.S. banks were closed.

This year, 12/12/12 falls at a much better time in the promo calendar, and FI marketers responded, at least on the credit union side. In the first five pages of Google results we found 15 CU promotions, most offering 12-month, $1,200 loans.

However, it turns out that "12/12/12 loans" are regular December fare at a number of credit unions. Only four of the 15 were focused on the once-in-a-hundred-years date, one on the deposit side and three low-rate loan specials (note 1).

The standout deal? A 0.12% APR on a $1,200 loan from L'Oreal USA FCU

Here are the four CU 12/12/12 promos:

  • L'Oreal USA Federal Credit Union: 12-month, $1,200 loan with with APR = 0.12% (requires payroll deduction & estatements; link, screenshot #1)
  • Meadowland Credit Union: 12-month, $1,200 loan with rate as low as 1.2% (direct deposit & checking account required; link, screenshot #2)
  • Notre Dame Federal Credit Union: 120-day loan of $1,212.12 at an APR of 1.1212% (requires opening new credit card; link, screenshot #3)
  • USAlliance FCU: 12-month, 1.2% APY CD (new money only; link, screenshot #4)

Other 12/12/12 loan seemingly unrelated to Dec 12, 2012 (with links to the loan page):

  • Carolina Foothills FCU (link)
  • Clackamas FCU (link)
  • Ecusta Credit Union (link)
  • Freedom FCU (ran during the summer, link)
  • Fremont FCU (link)
  • Gulf Coast Educators FCU (link; see banner at top of post)
  • John Hopkins FCU (link)
  • Northwest Georgia Credit Union (link)
  • Northwest Resource FCU (link)
  • SRP Federal Credit Union (link)
  • Telhio Credit Union (link)

No banks seem to be joining the fun. Although Chase was promoting its sponsorship of the 12/12/12 Sandy benefit concert with an AdWords buy on Google yesterday (screenshot 5). 

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1. L'Oreal USA FCU is offering a rate of just 0.12%
Note: Interest totals just $0.78 over the life of the loan, payroll deduction required

image


2. Meadowland Credit Union worked Aaron Rodger into its promo

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3. Notre Dame FCU is the only FI that ran promotions on both 11/11/11 and 12/12/12 promotions
(11 Dec 2012)

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4. USAlliance FCU was the only one with a deposit special

image

Chase Bank is the headline sponsor of a Sandy benefit concert (link)

image

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Note:
1. We searched for "12/12/12 promotion credit union" and found many entries. The same search with "bank" instead of "credit union" turned about nothing (at least through the first dozen pages of results).

Comments

Oklahoma Employees Credit Union Posts Seven Specials for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

By Jim Bruene on November 21, 2012 11:37 AM | Comments

imageDuring the past few years we've reported on Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions at financial institutions (last year). ING Direct is the only large bank that has consistently used the post-Thanksgiving holiday in its marketing (see below) and we are glad to see it continue under Capital One ownership.

imageThis year we found another new entrant for our database of holiday offers, 42,000 member Oklahoma Employees Credit Union. It has a prominent black tag on its homepage announcing a "Black Friday Money $ale" (see first screenshot). 

And from the looks of it, the CU has created a pretty hot offer, leading with car loans as low as 1.49% with no payment due for 90 days (well after holiday spending subsides). But that's just one of the seven holiday offers (second screenshot). The CU is also offering:

From Black Friday to Cyber Monday (Nov 23 to 26)

  • 1.49% APR* on New or Used Auto Loans 
  • 1.00% APR^ Off Unsecured Loans
  • Surcharge Free Gift Cards***
Black Friday to the End of the Year (Nov 23 to Dec 31)
  • 90 days no pay**
  • $149 Mortgage Loan Origination Fee^^
  • $49 Credit*^ with New MasterCard
  • 0.49%tt Business Loan Origination Fee

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    Oklahoma Employees Credit Union homepage with Black Friday specials (Wed, 21 Nov 2012)

      image

    Black Friday landing page (link)

    image 


    ING Direct homepage with Black Friday offers (21 Nov 2012)

    image


    ING Direct Black Friday teaser page (link)
    Note: The bank does not reveal the actual offers until midnight Thursday

    image

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    Fine print on Oklahoma Employees Credit Union offers:

      *Annual Percentage Rate. 640+ credit score. Max term 60 months; estimated payment $17.31 per $1,000 borrowed. Min amount $10,000. Existing OECU loan min advance $2,500. Requires automatic payments and eStatements. 
      ** Borrower may defer initial auto loan payment up to 90 days. Interest will accrue from date of advance. 
      ^ Annual Percentage Rate. Reduction from regular earned rate as determined by credit score. 
      *** Up to 5 cards
      ^^ Max 12 years up to $250,000 and 75% loan-to-value as determined by appraisal or AVM. 
      *^ Initial transaction must be made by 1/10/13. Credit to be issued by 2/10/13. 
      tt Owner occupied commercial real estate. Max loan $500,000. Additional closing costs may apply. Normal lending policies apply.

      Comments

      Happy New Year!

      By Jim Bruene on January 1, 2012 8:30 AM | Comments

      imageOn the first day of 2012, we found a few financial institutions wishing their customers well, while also informing them of holiday branch closures. Always festive Amplify Credit Union (Austin, TX) had a great look as did First Federal Bank of Florida (see below). 

      First Federal also remembered to address New Years Eve hours on Saturday, a more likely question. 

      Final note: While you're at it, also mention holiday hours in your call center and online banking support.


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      Amplify Credit Union (1 Jan 2012, link)
      Note: Amplify switches out its header graphic and logo treatment on major holidays. Here was their Valentine's look in 2010.

      Amplify CU homepage on New Years Day


      First Federal Bank of Florida (1 Jan 2012, link)
      Note: First Florida had the best New Years graphics. They not only ran two banners, but also used subtle animation to cause the logo and top banner to twinkle when it was moused over. The bank also addressed Dec 31 hours along with those on the official holiday.

      First Federal Bank of Florida homepage on New Years day


      U.S. New Mexico Federal Credit Union
      (1 Jan 2012, link)

      US New Mexico FCU homepage on New Years Day

      Comments

      Holiday Promotions from Credit Unions and Community Banks

      By Jim Bruene on December 27, 2011 1:45 PM | Comments

      imageLast week we looked at the holiday efforts (or lack thereof) of the 20 largest U.S. banks. But aside from PNC Bank's "Christmas cost index" and ING Direct's "12 days of mobile," not much this holiday season was particularly noteworthy (inset for Midland Bank gift cheques, circa 1956, see credit below).

      For inspiration, you need to look at the smaller banks and credit unions. Here are five we found through random googling today: 


      1. Michigan State University FCU: 6.9% Holiday Loan (homepage promo #2)

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      2. Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union: Visa Gift Card (homepage promo #2)

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      3. OnPoint Community Credit (Oregon): Mobile gift cards (homepage, promo #1) , Visa Gift Card (promo #2)

       image

      image 

      4. Community First Credit Union (Florida): iPad giveaway for eStatements (homepage, promo #3; landing page)

      image

      5. Texas Bank: "Stash the Christmas cash" (homepage, one of four rotating promos; landing page)
      Note: "Stash the cash" is similar to BofA's "keep the change;" debit card purchases are rounded up to nearest dollar with the extra 1-99 cents deposited into savings. The holiday promo included a 5% bonus match on each transfer in December (website powered by Bancvue)

      image 

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      imageNote: Picture credit. Midland Bank advertisement for holiday checks from The Illustrated London News, 17 Nov 1956. (Click to enlarge, for sale here). 

      Comments

      Holiday Promotions at the Top-20 U.S. Banks

      By Jim Bruene on December 21, 2011 4:38 PM | Comments

      Since I began blogging in 2004, I've usually run a year-end post looking at the holiday marketing efforts of the top-20 U.S. banks (links below). This year, only 7 of the 20 banks are using holiday or seasonal imagery on their homepages. That's a decrease of 3 over last year.

      As usual, PNC Bank is the gold standard for holiday bank promotions, with its long-running (25+ years) "cost of Christmas index" which quantifies the cost of procuring all the items mentioned in the famous song, "12 Days of Christmas." Following is a quick overview of the promotions, including a 1-to 5-bulb rating. 

      Previous posts: 2010, 2009 part 1, 2009 part 2, 2007, 2006, 2006, 2004

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      Big banks in the holiday spirit
      (rated 1 to 5 bulbs)

      PNC: Christmas cost index

      • Cost of Christmas based on the song 12 Days of Christmas

      Score: imageimageimageimageimage

      Homepage

      image

      Landing page: Amazing microsite, wonderful graphics, and slow loading (link)

      image


      Fifth Third: holiday sweeps

      • Pay Your Bills sweeps with holiday graphics
      • Small ad with a card wrapped with ribbon which directs users to branches for "holiday shopping made easy," presumably for gift cards, but neither the ad nor the landing page make that clear

      Score: imageimageimageimage

      image

      ING Direct: Mobile usage sweeps

      • 12 Days of Mobile sweeps

      Score: imageimageimageimage

      image

      Landing page

      image


      Chase: sweeps and car loans

      • Winner Wonderland, credit card sweeps with one entry for every credit card purchase and 5 entries for every donation put on the Chase card
      • Add joy to your wallet, car refinance promotion

      Score: imageimageimage

      image


      BB&T: Visa gift card

      • Small advertisement in lower right

      Score: image image

      Homepage

      image

      TD Bank: Visa gift card

      • Small advertisement in lower right (below the fold on my laptop)

      Score: image

      Homepage

      image

      Key Bank: gift cards

      • Very small gift-card promo, below the fold on my laptop and rotating with a half-dozen other items

      Score: image

      Homepage

      image 

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      Notes:
      1. No holiday imagery on the homepages of BofA, Wells Fargo, Citibank, HSBC, US Bank, SunTrust, Capital One, Citizens, Regions, Harris, Bank of the West, Union Bank, Comercia
      2. Screenshots taken from Ft. Myers, FL, IP address, between 7 and 8 PM, 20 Dec 2011    
      3. Credit: Happy Holidays animation from LayoutSparks.com

      Comments

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