The charts and graphs below bring home both how far credit cards have moved from being almost an orphan asset in the credit union industry toward having a place far closer to the head of the table.
"CU Total Assets" and "CU Credit Card Outstandings" illustrate how well credit cards have performed for credit unions. Even as credit union assets have performed strongly since 2006, growing at a rate of 10%, credit card portfolio balances have grown at 12%. This should put to rest some credit union's formal approach to their credit card portfolios, which a number of credit union executives described as "benign neglect"
"CU Credit Card Accounts" illustrates how much progress still needs to be made. Even though numbers of credit union members who carry their credit union's card has grown by 5% from 2006 through 2009, that number hides the numbers of credit unions that still have not figured out a better way to market their cards to their own members. Based on the experiences of the credit unions that are doing this well, organizations like Card Services for Credit Unions and PSCU Financial Services believe 15% or even 20% of credit union members carrying and using their credit union credit card is not an unreasonable goal.
"CU Cards as % of Total Assets" presents the cyclical nature of CU credit card portfolio growth. As a rule, the highest balances and the fattest portfolios are found in the fourth quarter, when the holiday period has often meant strong consumer spending and card use before falling in the first quarter as consumers pay down their credit card bills.
"Total Asset Growth, Annual % Change" illustrates the different ways banks and credit unions have performed generally as well as in their card portfolios.
Note that as bad as credit unions have had it, banks have lost a good deal more value. The last chart highlights credit unions need to continue building a very strong voice in credit card issues. Yes, banks are bigger and issue more cards, but this chart illustrates that cards play a significantly bigger role in credit union assets than they do in banks.