Imagine you’re about to take a trip, but a few days before you leave, you lose your credit card. What to do? You can’t wait for the bank to send you a new card in the mail. If you’re lucky, you might be able to pay a fee for expedited delivery. Or, if you’re a Freedom Credit Union member, you can just stop by their branch and pick up a new one on the spot — no waiting, no fee.
The credit union has issued check and ATM cards since 2009, but expanded the service to include credit cards in April this year. Using a Datacard 150i, which costs approximately $13,000 per branch, Freedom will replace a member’s lost or stolen debit/credit card for free. Members only need to present proper ID to have a new card made.
For those opening new accounts — especially new members — the instant issue service helps get the relationship off to a smooth, efficient start. Someone leaving the branch with a card in hand can start using their new account immediately. But if they have to wait for their card in the mail, they are likely going to feel impatient and frustrated.
Reality Check: No one wants to “wait 5-10 business days” for anything anymore. People expect instant gratification. The world is now measured in milliseconds. A whole day now feels like a millennium.
A debit/credit card is a symbol of purchasing power. It is the consumer’s most frequent point of interaction with their bank account. Handing someone their card in person — as Freedom has done some 11,000 times already — has a tremendous positive psychological impact.
Reality Check: For all the benefits online and mobile banking solutions offer, instant issue cards is one convenience available only at physical branch locations. (Of course, who knows how long plastic credit cards will be around.)
Freedom rolled out the instant issue credit card service in three of its branches, but says it will have units at all six by the end of the year.
There are plans to promote the service with members as additional machines are added. In the meantime, cards will still be mailed out to some members. Any member who wants an expedited card can choose to pick it up at a branch.
“The Instant Issue machines save Freedom members time as well as money,” said Freedom spokesperson Dana Feeney. “Having a card expeditiously shipped from the manufacturer can cost up to $25.”
According to Freedom Credit Union, TD Bank and Wells Fargo (ne Wachovia), both competitors in their area, also offer instant issue cards.
Freedom Credit Union has over $490 million in assets and more than 57,000 Members, with branches in Pennsylvania.