UI credit card receives Diamond Award for design

The Illinois Card, available to University alumni from the University of Illinois Employee Credit Union, has received the Diamond Award of Plastic Card Design from the Credit Union National Association.

The Illinois credit cards are available in five different designs or logos: the Alma Mater, University of Illinois, Red Grange at the General Assembly Hall, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Illinois at Springfield.

These credit cards are generally offered to University alumni over the age of 21.

Before the partnership between the alumni association and the UI Employee Credit Union, the alumni association had a partnership with MBNA and Bank of America for 19 years. Due to the financial crisis in 2009, the contract ended.

Since then, the alumni association picked a local bank, the UI Employee Credit Union, to form a partnership and create the official Illinois credit card.

Joseph Rank, the senior advisor at the University of Illinois Alumni Association, described how the organization decided to have an Illinois card and how it became widely recognized.

“Many years ago, the credit card industry determined that a credit card with an image appealed to the customers rather than a generic one,” Rank said. “When I was traveling around the world with the Illinois card, people in China and Japan recognized this logo and said, ‘Oh, Illinois. I know somebody who graduated from Illinois.’ It is amazing to know that people around the world recognize the University of Illinois.”

Rank also said the University benefits whenever an individual purchases something with the Illinois card.

“The other aspect of this kind of program is that the bank, which issued this card, rebates a portion of the fees they earned back to the institution.” Rank said. “As an alumnus, I also decided to use this card because it is like a donation to the school.”

Keon Conerly, the assistant vice president of marketing and PR at the UI Employee Credit Union, said the union is delighted to receive the Diamond Award.

“First of all, our credit union is honored for receiving this great award,” Conerly said. “We have

formed a partnership since August of 2010 … (that has) been developed greatly since then.”

E.J. Donaghey, the CEO of the UI Employee Credit Union, said the Illinois card has attained the credit union’s vision for the card.

“We were thinking of a strategy to help the fans of the University and alumni, which was to introduce this card,” Donaghey said. “We believe that the award is showing what the UI Employee Credit Union can do to help the fans of the University.”