A unique credit card for a unique community

Wisconsin State Roundup

Published October 1, 1994  | October 1994 issue

People's National Bank of Hayward has introduced a new credit card that is generating interest from financial institutions around the country. It's called the World Class World Wide card and is designed both to promote the community of Hayward and to expand the bank's customer base.

Part of the profits from the community card will support sporting events that Hayward hosts: the American Birkebeiner cross-country ski race, Lumberjack World Championships, Fishing Has No Boundaries, Winterfest and the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival. The percentage and share of card profits to be donated to events will be determined after at least six months of the card's performance data has been analyzed.

Since the MasterCard was offered in March 1994 the bank has received 180 new applications. Approximately 90 percent of the applicants are local residents, and most "outsiders" have done business with People's National Bank in the past. The card carries a monthly interest rate of prime rate plus 7.9 percent. The $15 annual fee is waived for the first year of membership or if the cardholder is a PNB Plus checking account member.

The bank expects the community card to further promote events that already enjoy wide support of Hayward and the surrounding communities. Anita Zalewski, administrator of the Lumberjack World Championships, estimates the event draws 10,000 people, and she has heard from local businesses that it is responsible for their largest income weekend of the year.

The American Birkebeiner draws approximately 35,000 fans and 10,000 skiers. A 1988 study by the University of Wisconsin-Superior showed the typical race participant to be a 37-year-old male professional with a graduate degree and a household income of $52,000 a year. "The income level of event supporters was a very small consideration," says Lynn Peters, vice president of People's National Bank. "Our goal was to get the card known outside the community."

The card is publicized at the sponsored events and through newspaper and radio advertisements, and mailings were sent to event supporters. People's National Bank sponsored these events previously, but they hope their card will allow them to contribute on a larger scale.

"Hayward is a unique town. People are on many boards and committees; they promote Hayward themselves," Peters says. "The card, because the community is excited about their events, sells itself. If Hayward wasn't as unique as it is, we wouldn't have tried it."

Harry J. Argue, executive director of the Wisconsin Bankers Association, says, "As far as I know their card is unique. Other banks are going to be closely watching the experience Hayward has with this card."

Kristeen Bullwinkle