Bi-Lo Introduces Alternative Payment Option for Customers Short of Cash

MAULDIN, S.C. -- Shoppers at South Carolina Bi-Lo stores now have a new payment option. Called BonusPay, the new credit program is designed to offer assistance to customers who have an urgent need for groceries but are short of cash and have no credit available. Bi-Lo officials also hope it will cut down on bad checks.

Developed with the First Bank of Delaware in association with Atlanta-based Purpose Solutions, LLC, BonusPay was tested in several Bi-Lo supermarkets and was well received by customers, according to Dean Cohagen, Bi-Lo/Bruno's president and c.e.o.

"Research has shown that around 35 percent of American households have a need for some type of emergency credit during each year," said Cohagen in a statement. "Many times when customers need to buy groceries and don't have any money, they end up writing a check without sufficient funds to cover it, resulting in very high bank fees. BonusPay is a lower-cost alternative for shoppers than writing bad checks or taking out some other types of short-term loans."

The retailer plans to roll out BonusPay to the remainder of its Bi-Lo and Food World locations by the end of August.

To receive a BonusPay card, shoppers fill out an application or use the BonusPay phone at the customer service counter. A checking account and identity verification is required. The First Bank of Delaware, underwriter of the program, approves the initial amount of credit, usually $50. Credit amounts can be increased over time up to $200 with approval from First Bank of Delaware and good payment history.

To use BonusPay, customers present the card at checkout in Bi-Lo supermarkets. The card is swiped at the PIN pad just as a credit card or debit card would be. The amount charged will be automatically drafted from the customer's checking account on the agreed-upon date, usually the next payday. The due date is also shown on the customer's receipt. Fees for the service may vary by state.

Alonzo Primus, e.v.p. of the First Bank of Delaware, noted, "This type of emergency credit is the right answer for customers with no other options except to write an NSF check. It should only be used when there are no other options. Fees will be up to 95 percent lower to use BonusPay than to pay NSF penalties."

If there isn't enough money in the checking account when a BonusPay draft is made, the transaction will be treated just like an NSF check, with similar penalties.
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