The fishing scheme snags a big batch of boat loans

Anglers take the bait for Bass Cash at America’s First Federal Credit Union (AmFirst), Birmingham, Alabama.

Bass Cash is offering a $1,000 bonus prize to AmFirst members whose catch places in the top 40 of an Alabama Bass Trail tournament if their boat is funded by AmFirst. The bonus payout doubles if the member pulls the boat to the tournament using a truck funded by AmFirst.

“We paid out $49,000 in 2021 earnings,” says Phil Boozer, senior vice president and chief sales officer at the $2 billion asset credit union. “But that $49,000 is a drop in the ocean compared to what we saved members on loan rates.”

AmFirst is involved in approximately 50 fishing-related events each year. The credit union also raises cash prizes for members who place in local tournaments, sponsors local tournaments, hosts a boat show, and provides gift cards to reward winners at high school fishing club events.

Dropping hooks, lines and sinkers for fishing events makes sense in a state where bass fishing tournaments are “a huge sport,” Boozer says. “It gives us a lot of visibility. Anglers may have never looked at us before, but now they realize they are getting a better deal on loans from AmFirst.

A marine dealer who offers indirect AmFirst loans suggested that the credit union sponsor fishing tournaments, which led to the launch of Bass Cash in 2018. Today, some buyers ask dealers for an AmFirst loan or even refinance their boats or trucks in order to participate.

AmFirst’s advice to make your fund a “guardian” by promoting indirect loans to fishermen:

  • Create detailed rules for participation and payment.
  • Use register in advance to track growth and share materials, such as free decals, caps and shirts that participating members are welcome to wear or display. More than 110 registered members in 2021.
  • To reinforce promote the tournament by sharing information in branches and online.
  • Reinvest in sports through sponsorships and promotions.

AmFirst has funded 2,192 new boat and truck loans over the past three years while strengthening indirect lending relationships with marine and vehicle dealerships.

While AmFirst doesn’t track Bass Cash loans separately, Boozer says there’s nothing fishy about the credit union’s claims that it’s making more boat and truck loans to fishermen.

“I couldn’t ask for better value on what I spend than on what I get back,” says Boozer. “It’s just fun to do it.”

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