Somewhat counter intuitively, credit union card industry experts say that two conflicting trends in the economy make 2012 a good year for a credit union which had foregone issuing credit cards in the past to get back into the business.
First, the economy is improving, bringing higher employment and tapping into pent-up consumer demand for goods, services and credit. Second, enough consumers have seen their credit lines shut down and credit cards withdrawn that they need a source of consumer credit they can rely upon and trust.
These two trends, an improving economy and consumers seeking a better, more reliable, source of credit gives credit union a strong opportunity for their card programs, according card experts said.
“It’s a good time to get back in on the ground floor because of the cautiously optimistic comments being made by economists,” said Caroline Lane, senior vice president, Business Development & Marketing, at CO-OP Financial Services in a white paper the CUSO has prepared on the topic of credit unions getting back into card issuing.
“There are signs that things are sparking back to life and when consumer confidence returns, consumers use their credit cards. So now is a good time because consumers aren’t receiving a flood of competing card offers yet,” Lane said.
She also pointed out that credit unions and credit union card programs have been recognized as significantly better deals for consumers, which should also help credit unions market them to the public at large.
“In the last two years negative publicity regarding unfair fees and practices from large bank issuers have appeared in every news channel,” Lane added in the white paper titled “Credit Unions Return to Credit Cards for Better Service and Profitability.”
“Consumers want to trust their financial services provider, and credit unions, with their founding philosophy of ‘people helping people,’ are being touted as the place to turn for fair pricing and honest disclosure. Now is a good time to take advantage of the heightened awareness by aggressively promoting credit card products,” Lane said.