How a credit union raised the roof on credit card rewards

A leader is emerging in the world of credit card rewards, and it’s not one you might expect.

After revamping its credit card portfolio, Chicago-based Alliant Credit Union now has two cards that outperform even the most generous rewards cards from many major issuers. One offers 2.5% in ongoing cash back, with a $59 annual fee, waived the first year. The other offers 2 points per dollar spent — an effective 2% rewards rate — and a $0 annual fee.

These reward rates would be remarkable coming from a major issuer. But for a credit union, they’re even more noteworthy. It’s unusual for these not-for-profit financial institutions to focus on credit card rewards.

“We got a lot of emails back saying, ‘Thank you for doing this,’ and, ‘Finally, this is going to be a card I use,’” says Michelle Goeppner, senior manager of credit product strategy at Alliant Credit Union.

Alliant’s bold move started with its members.

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