A new publicly available database of consumer complaints about big bank credit card programs may benefit credit unions trying to market their own card programs, an industry observer speculates.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has begun making the comments it has been gathering available on its website.
Credit unions generally have been known for having more consumer-friendly credit card programs, but have often been slow to market them on those qualities.
“This represents another tremendous opportunity for the 3,200-plus card issuing credit unions to promote their credit card programs. Time to put the credit card product front and center on their credit union website homepage,” said Ondine Irving, a consumer card advocate and founder of the credit union card website Credit Card Connection.
Since the database only includes card issuers with more than $10 billion in assets, it's unlikely that it will contain many credit union issued cards directly, but Irving pointed out that credit unions which have partnered with major bank card issuers could find that they wind up on the database through their association.
“For those credit unions who have sold their program to banks, don't be surprised if complaints creep up about your pseudo credit union card program, due to the higher rates, member service issues and fees, which are typically not found on credit union issued card programs,” she added.
One credit union industry leader, meanwhile, expressed concerns about the new database.
“NAFCU understands the CFPB has the authority to investigate legitimate consumer complaints,” said President/CEO Fred Becker. “Unfortunately, we fear that this new database may open the door to frivolous and unsubstantiated complaints. In addition, given the nature of viral media, disclosing all complaints may paint a misleading picture and trigger reputational risks for solid institutions that could raise safety and soundness concerns for the financial institutions in question.”