PLS program gets off the ground in Ill.

July 21, 2016

Illinois state credit unions are reinventing the way the state’s consumers think about saving by offering Save to Win, the nationwide, credit union prize-linked savings program (PLS).

During a time where many Americans are borrowing more money than they are saving, the credit union-backed Save to Win program gives credit union members an option for improving their financial situations.

The first Illinois credit union to participate in the program is Catholic & Community CU, Belleville. “Saving money is important for everyone’s financial health, but today’s interest rates don’t provide much incentive to save anymore,” said Catholic & Community CU CEO Ken Bossung. “We hope that the Save to Win program gives our members the incentive to save again, and makes it easier for our members to develop the good habit of saving. We believe that encouraging good savings habits is an important part of our mission of improving our members financial well-being.”

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed HB 2477, allowing credit unions and other financial institutions to offer PLS, into law one year ago this week. The law went into effect Jan. 1.

“One of the goals of the ICU Foundation is to help people develop money management skills, and this is a great way for credit unions to incentivize members to develop good savings habits,” said Vicki Ponzo, Illinois Credit Union Foundation executive director.

"The best part of the credit union-backed program is that members are guaranteed to have more money saved than when they started, because they keep all the money they have saved plus interest regardless of the drawing outcome. Save to Win rewards members for saving money, not spending money,” she said.

The Save to Win PLS model has merited national media attention for encouraging more families to save money. The accounts offer members entries into cash-prize drawings each time they deposit a set amount of money into a savings account. 

Most PLS programs hold raffles monthly, quarterly, and annually. Even if members don’t receive the cash prize, they still win by building healthier savings accounts.

Save to Win was first offered in Michigan in 2009. “CU Solutions Group is proud to offer prize-linked savings under the Save to Win brand in 10 states, and now in Illinois in cooperation with the Illinois Credit Union League,” said Dave Adams, president/CEO of the Michigan Credit Union League and its subsidiary CU Solutions Group. “Promoting thrift is at the core of the credit union mission and Save to Win provides a compelling incentive for members to establish smart savings habits.”  

To date, the program has awarded more than $1.9 million in prizes and has helped credit union members save more than $115 million.

Twenty states now authorize financial institutions to offer this product, including Arizona, South Carolina, Louisiana, New Jersey, Michigan, Rhode Island, Maine, Washington, North Carolina, Nebraska, Maryland, Connecticut, Indiana, New York, Arkansas, Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon and Virginia.