CARROLLTON, Texas — G.E. Foodland here, which operates Elrod's Cost Plus stores and in Foodland Market stores, reports that it has successfully offered a store credit card to credit-challenged customers that serves as a short-term "micro-loan" with a fixed rate.
The year-old Charge It + Card program, from Fort Worth-based Essentia Financial, was designed to meet the needs of the 36 million U.S. households that "occasionally run out of funds and need another payment option to purchase essential items,” according to Essentia. "We launched the store charge card from Essentia late in the spring of 2010, and we are very pleased with the results, said Jon Beckman, executive vice president of G.E. Foodland, in a statement. "The customers really like the card, and the sale of groceries where the card is used for payment continues to increase."
"Every day new customers are signing up to get the card, and we anticipate usage of the card as a payment alternative to continue to increase,"; he added. "This has been a win-win for our stores and our customers."
The card's line of credit is accepted only at the stores that issue the cards, and can be issued immediately to the customer at the point of sale. Customers are required to have a valid U.S. bank account. Essentia collects money from the customer’s bank account on a pre-selected date; customers can check their accounts using the Internet.
The benefits to the retailer include lower payment acceptance costs, Essentia said.