BancVue is repeating its free gas promotion that it did last year. The promotion is part of BancVue’s marketing campaign to spread awareness of Kasasa, its national brand of free checking and savings accounts. These types of promotions should grab the attention of many people who may not pay much attention to checking accounts.
This latest gas giveaway promotion takes place in 38 cities in several states on August 28-29, 2013. They're giving away $20 of free gas for the first 200 cars at each participating gas station. It starts at 9:00am and lasts until 11:00am on Wednesday and Thursday. Full details including a map showing all the locations are listed in this Kasasa promotions page. This might be an easy $20. There are no requirements to open the account to get the free gas.
That Kasasa promotion page lists the gas giveaway sponsors. These are the banks and credit unions that are Kasasa providers (or plan to be). We have seen a few new Kasasa providers over the last couple of months. Hopefully, this marketing campaign will attract more banks and credit unions to offer Kasasa in addition to attracting consumers.
According to the Kasasa promotion page, $152,000 in gas will be given away to consumers. That’s an increase from $80,000 in gas that was given away in last year’s promotion. Last year BancVue said there were more than 300,000 Kasasa accounts. This year that number has increased to 400,000. It’s good to see Kasasa is growing. I would like to see it to grow more, especially in certain areas of the country. It appears that the growth hasn’t been evenly spread across the country. As you can see in the list of Kasasa providers, there are still states with no Kasasa providers like California, and there are several large states with just one or two providers.
The main way Kasasa and reward checking accounts are able to pay out high interest rates and still be profitable for the banks is from debit card interchange fees that merchants pay when consumers use their debit cards. One risk for Kasasa and all reward checking accounts is a reduction in interchange fees. That almost happened in 2011 when the Federal Reserve implemented new regulation that capped interchange fees. Fortunately, that has not impacted community banks and credit unions. However, there are worries that regulations and court decisions will eventually lower interchange fees even for small banks and credit unions. This might explain why Kasasa hasn’t grown more. Bank executives may be hesitant to invest in this when there is uncertainty with debit card interchange fee revenue.
Another reason why I think Kasasa hasn’t grown more is due to the name. The vast majority of people are never going to remember that Kasasa is a brand of free checking and savings accounts. I think the name has not been appealing for both consumers and bankers. That may have discouraged some banks from offering Kasasa. BancVue still offers reward checking accounts without the Kasasa brand, but it seems like BancVue is putting most of its investment dollars into Kasasa (as this latest promotion shows).
Finally, Kasasa and BancVue reward checking accounts are not the only reward checking accounts from banks and credit unions. Many have developed their own reward checking accounts. This can be less costly for the banks since they won’t have to pay BancVue monthly fees. Our reward checking rate table includes BancVue reward checking and Kasasa Cash accounts, and it includes non-BancVue reward checking accounts. One downside with some non-BancVue reward checking accounts is that they sometimes have monthly service fees.
If you're new to reward checking, my blog post, 10 Common Traits of High-Yield Reward Checking, should be useful.