CUs Find Media Glare and Web Spotlight Favor Their Card Programs
Credit unions that have their credit card programs listed on the Credit Card Connection are reporting increased attention thanks to the listings.
The $643 million USA Federal Credit Union in San Diego, for one, has received more than 800 referrals for its card program from the website.
Credit Card Connection is a consumer-oriented credit card reference site that seeks to guide consumers to cards free of fees and other practices designed to boost the card issuer's bottom line at their expense.
It is the brainchild of Ondine Irving, a credit union card portfolio analyst and founder of Card Analysis Solutions.
"For the longest time I had thought there needed to be a website that could give consumers something like a good housekeeping seal of approval on card programs that are good for consumers," Irving said. "The passing of the new credit card law and the feedback I received from my friends in the credit union movement and Suze Orman helped me decide to go ahead and do it."
Suze Orman is a personal finance expert and author who has carried a message of financial fitness and financial education onto television and other venues. After Irving reached out to Orman to explain credit unions and their card programs, Orman embraced them wholeheartedly and encouraged Irving to put the CCC site together.
As of this writing, Irving reported that 845 credit unions had applied to join the site and that they were still coming in, albeit at a slightly slower pace. So far, the site's peak for visitors was 105,000 in March, she said.
"CUs are still coming in drips and drabs-down to about 10-20 each week," she said, adding that some larger ones signed on recently: Randolph Brooks, Suncoast, Purdue, Michigan State, Travis and Members First.
Credit unions that have had their cards listed on the site have seen positive results.
The $75 million Statewide Federal Credit Union, headquartered in Flowood, Miss., signed on with Credit Card Connection in January.
"I can't recall where I heard about it, but I remember I went to the list of credit unions and saw there weren't any from Mississippi on the list and I thought there ought to be one and it ought to be us," CEO Paul Armstrong recalled.
Armstrong said the credit union has been very pleased, so far, with the results from the site, particularly since the credit union does not have a community charter. He reported that since the first of the year, the credit union had 375 visitors click through from the Credit Card Connection site, 200 of whom made applications for a credit card. Of those, Armstrong said, 50 had resulted in cards being issued.
And there has been good news from other parts of the country as well.
The $46 million Acme Continental Credit Union, headquartered in Riverdale, Ill., reported to Irving that its balances for the first quarter of 2010 had risen a full 7% over the first quarter of 2009 and that applications had jumped 425% for the same period.
Andrew Downin, vice president for marketing for the $920 million Partners Federal Credit Union, reported that his credit union has seen a sharp increase in its fixed rate card products, but said it was still too soon to know how many new accounts or how much of a rise in balances might be the result. But Partners is confident that participating in CCC was a solid decision, he said.
"We've integrated our Credit Card Connection inclusion in with our overall marketing strategy, and included it as a recent post on our credit union's Facebook page," Downin said.
"We had several comments posted from members on our Facebook page saying that they had seen broadcasts that mentioned Credit Card Connection, and actually went out on to the website after the broadcast to ensure Partners was listed. One Member's comment on our Facebook page was, 'I just knew Partners FCU would make that list and now I have proof,'" he said. "It's evident that our members have the credit card industry changes top-of-mind, and that they are looking to Credit Card Connection for validation that our program is among the best. I'm glad we made the decision to be a part of the site."