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SaveUp Flips Traditional Banking Rewards Model

The new savings rewards program is partnering with financial institutions such as Bank of the West to offer consumers incentives for reducing debt and increasing assets.

This week, San Francisco-based SaveUp announced the beta launch of its nationwide savings reward program. Unlike traditional rewards programs that give customers incentive to spend money, SaveUp rewards consumers for paying down debts, saving money and learning about personal financial management.

Through the program, customers who bank at more than 18,000 financial institutions in the U.S. can earn credits they can redeem for a range of prizes, including gift cards, electronics, vacations, new cars and even a chance to enter a $2 million jackpot. To earn the credits, customers must register on the SaveUp website and begin making positive financial transactions such as paying credit card bills or putting money into a savings account. Participants earn one credit for every dollar saved or used to pay off debt.

Financial institutions can offer SaveUp to their customers at no cost or choose to pay a variable subscription fee in order to tailor the program around some of their own tools and products. Since the rewards program is hosted on SaveUp's own website, bank IT departments don't have to do anything to implement it.

San Francisco-based Bank of the West (more than $60 billion in assets) is one of the first nine financial institutions to participate in a pilot program with SaveUp. "When I started to look at the concept for SaveUp, I thought it was a great approach to encouraging positive financial behavior and fit in really well with our social media strategy," says Andrew Rosen, Bank of the West's chief marketing officer.

Last April, the bank kicked off its new social media strategy by launching an official Facebook page. Bank of the West began building a fan base around sponsor relationships in the community and college sporting events with the intent of adding some financial education components down the road. Those education components are now coming through SaveUp, which is available to all of the bank's customers.

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