SOURCE: First Trade Union Bank

First Trade Union Bank

First Trade Union Bank

September 16, 2014 08:45 ET

First Trade and SmarterBucks Launch One-of-a-Kind Student Loan Pay-Down Debit Card Rewards Program

Making Everyday Purchases With a Debit Card Can Help Pay Down Student Loan Debt

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwired - Sep 16, 2014) - First Trade Union Bank and SmarterBucks, a division of SimpleTuition, today introduced the only debit card rewards program that helps consumers pay down student debt. Tied to First Trade's "FT Checking" account, the program allows users to earn 1.00% in SmarterBucks rewards on all non-PIN-based purchases made with the First Trade debit card. These rewards, which are uncapped, are then automatically contributed as an extra payment toward the principle of a student loan.

The program is designed to provide a simple method of paying down student debt that fits into users' lives and rewards them for everyday purchases. To participate, users create a free SmarterBucks account and link any student loan for automatic payment, making this the only program with an open infrastructure that can be used with all student loan providers. Users can apply online for an FT Checking account from the SmarterBucks website, a process that is quick, completely paperless, and optimized for both computers and mobile devices. Once the FT Checking and SmarterBucks accounts are linked, the user can begin making purchases with the debit card and earning 1.00% on every non-PIN-based transaction immediately. When rewards reach $10.00 or more, a payment is automatically made toward the student loan that user has designated in the SmarterBucks system. 

"The SmarterBucks mission is simple: to help the 37 million Americans currently living with over $1 trillion in outstanding student debt to get out of that debt smarter, faster and for less," said Kevin Walker, Co-Founder and CEO of SimpleTuition. "Partnering with First Trade to provide a rewards program that allows our users to channel their everyday spending toward paying down debt is an exciting way for us to deliver on that commitment. First Trade's product set, technology platform, and approach to customer service made them a perfect fit for our SmarterBucks audience and an obvious selection as a partner for this initiative."

Since its official launch in 2012, SmarterBucks has been helping people pay down their student debt in a variety of ways. This debit card program complements their existing methods of earning rewards toward student loan repayment, which includes completing surveys, shopping in the online Marketplace and inviting family and friends to earn rewards on their behalf. Its user base is currently over 140,000 members.

Loan holders may set up a SmarterBucks "standard" account and apply their rewards directly towards their own loan. Parents, grandparents, spouses and friends can also rack up rewards by signing up for a SmarterBucks "gifter" account, and then inviting a SmarterBucks "standard" account-holder to receive their rewards. Both SmarterBucks standard and gifter accountholders can take advantage of the First Trade debit card rewards program by opening an FT Checking account, a convenient account that also provides unlimited ATM rebates and does not impose minimum balance requirements or maintenance fees. 

"We're proud to be the Bank that provides the only debit card that earns SmarterBucks rewards to help pay down student debt and improve consumers' financial management," said Michael A. Butler, First Trade's President & CEO. "This rewards program, attached to our consumer FT Checking account that already offers a paperless online account opening process, a debit card with unlimited ATM rebates, robust online banking, intuitive mobile banking apps, and a mobile payment app powered by LevelUp, is truly one-of-a-kind. We are excited to have partnered with SmarterBucks to offer this value-added service to their users and our clients."

This partnership is First Trade's latest strategic alliance with a forward-thinking company to develop unique offerings that drive value and convenience for its clients, while streamlining their personal finances. Last year, First Trade announced its partnership with mobile payments innovator LevelUp, becoming the first U.S. community bank to offer a mobile payments and rewards app, FT Pay.

Student loan holders can start earning rewards with SmarterBucks and First Trade by signing up for a free account at www.smarterbucks.com.

About First Trade Union Bank

With assets over $702 million, First Trade Union Bank is an innovative, well-capitalized community bank offering a full complement of business and personal products and services. First Trade has a long-standing reputation for serving consumers, middle market, small businesses, unions, and government entities as its core clients. With a commitment to adopting the most advanced and secure technologies to provide greater flexibility and convenience, First Trade offers anytime/anywhere banking via mobile device, 24-hour ATM service, and remote deposit. Customers can readily access traditional, personalized branch banking at Banking Centers located in Massachusetts and New York. First Trade is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and is an Equal Housing/Equal Opportunity Lender. For further information, visit the Bank's website at ftub.com.

About SimpleTuition
SimpleTuition helps more than 10 million students a year afford higher education. The company provides tips, advice, and interactive tools that ensure students plan better for college costs, pay less for college-related expenses, and be smarter about how they manage and pay back their student loans. In addition to its private loan comparison tool, SimpleTuition.com, the company operates ValoreBooks, and SmarterBucks. SimpleTuition is headquartered in Boston, Mass., and is funded by Atlas Venture, Flybridge Capital Partners, and North Hill Ventures. For more information, visit SimpleTuition.com.

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