How Cornerstone Credit Union Leveraged Nickels for Impactful Marketing

Author Erin Petro
Read time 3 minutes read time

The Challenge:

In a rising interest rate environment with more members turning to credit cards to make ends meet, Cornerstone Credit Union saw that one of the biggest drains on their members’ wallets were high interest charges on unpaid credit card balances.  They wanted to support their members by reducing the cost of their credit card debt with the major banks. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported that, in 2023, over half of the credit cardholders in the US revolved on their credit card debt (i.e. carried an unpaid balance from one statement to the next).  These cardholders were charged over $120B in interest and fees while earning only $11B in rewards.

Cornerstone Credit Union made it a goal to help their members effectively manage revolving competitor credit card debt, but faced challenges in running a targeted campaign due to insufficient resources and analysis, hindering their ability to support the members who could benefit the most from refinance opportunities.

The Goal:

  1. Identify members revolving on competitor credit cards
  2. Engage them with personalized emails
  3. Connect them to Cornerstone’s lower-rate personal loans

The Solution:

Using Nickels to analyze their ACH data, Cornerstone identified that 62% of its membership base was likely revolving on competitor credit cards. This insight allowed Cornerstone to pinpoint priority member segments for targeted email campaigns, paving the way for a more strategic and effective approach.

Nickels provided Cornerstone with personalized, ready-to-send marketing emails. These materials, crafted for maximum impact, encouraged members to shift from high-interest competitor credit cards to the lower-rate credit cards and personal loans Cornerstone offers. “Nickels became an extension of our marketing team by helping facilitate the analysis and creating the marketing materials. This reduced the amount of time and effort on our team, while also driving results.” Said Jim Coons, CFO at Cornerstone Credit Union.

The Results:

The collaboration with Nickels resulted in impressive results for Cornerstone Credit Union:

  1. A 171% increase in personal loans during the month of October year-over-year. 
  1. Nickels’ campaign emails outperformed Cornerstone’s baseline open rates by 40%, showcasing the effectiveness of the personalized outreach. 
  1. Click-to-Open rates saw a significant 31% increase above Cornerstone’s baseline, indicating a higher engagement level among members targeted by Nickel’s campaigns. 

By harnessing the power of Nickel’s insights and marketing support, Cornerstone not only streamlined its marketing efforts, but also significantly boosted its lending activities. This partnership stands as an example of how Nickels supports local credit unions to drive results via personalized marketing campaigns.

About Cornerstone Credit Union

Cornerstone Credit Union has been “Rock Solid” since its founding in 1939 as MICRO SWITCH Employees’ Credit Union. Today, we serve more than 13,600 members and are open for membership to anyone who lives or works in the following northwest Illinois and southern Wisconsin counties. Illinois: Boone, Bureau, Carroll, JoDaviess, Ogle, Lee, Stephenson, Whiteside, and Winnebago Counties. Wisconsin: Green and Rock Counties. Family members of current CCU members also can join.

About Nickels

Nickels is a CUSO that helps credit unions cross sell credit cards, shift spend to their cards, and refinance members’ competitor card debt. Founded in Ann Arbor, MI, their mission is to improve members’ credit card health, in part by shifting members from high interest competitor cards to lower rate credit union products. For more information, please visit