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LATHAM, N.Y. – The New York Credit Union League is trying to give CU portfolios a jolt. The League researched the strengths and weaknesses of other institutions’ credit card offerings for at least a year in preparation for their new credit card offering “card in a box,” according to Kimberly McCumber, assistant vice president for card services for the League. “We did everything from using data collection services to determine card rates to searching other financial institutions’ Web sites to keeping and reviewing the card solicitations we got every day in the mail,” McCumber said, adding that the League wanted to be able to offer credit unions the most up-to-date alternative to add variety and strength to their card portfolios. According to the Florida based Card Services for Credit Unions (CSCU) as of early summer of 2002, 49% of their then roughly 1,900 member credit unions only offered one credit card to their members. CSCU spokeswoman Sue Chrazan said that the additional credit unions that had recently joined the association might have changed the percentage a bit, but not significantly. Both credit unions that have sold their card portfolios to banks and the banks that have bought them have cited the desire and ability to offer their members more card options as one of the reasons for the transaction. “Card in a box,” will allow participating credit unions to offer their members a choice of among five pre-researched and developed cards. These include the Credit Builder Card, which the League’s Card Services program described as a “no bells and whistles card, just an account to build/rebuild credit.” The card’s annual percentage rate will drop after six months of zero delinquency and zero times over the limit, the League said. The Show Me The Money Card is designed to appeal to individuals who want to receive cash rewards for their spending. The Student Card will come with a phone card that can be added to by use of the credit card, for those college bound, the League said. A Frequent Shoppers Card, with payment skipping options, and a Getaway Card, which offers travel bonuses, round out the offerings. McCumber said the League was at work on a sixth card offering as well but declined to give any details about it, citing the need to make all the necessary preparations before rolling it out. The League decided to research, develop and offer the new card package after determining that many of its member credit unions needed to do the research and offer their members other card choices, but that they did not have the will or the ability to do so, McCumber said. The approach emphasized freedom on a number of different levels as well, she added. Credit unions have the choice of whether to offer one of the cards, all of the cards or none of the cards, opting instead just to use the research that the League used to prepare the card offerings, McCumber said. The other level of freedom the League wanted to offer was freedom to the credit union members, McCumber added. Credit unions can do their own research to determine which new card their members would like to get or they can take all five cards and let their own members make the decision. Not all credit unions members are going to have children in college, or be college students themselves, she pointed out. But the ones for whom that card might be particularly useful might really want it. “Knowing that one size does not fit all when it comes to credit cards, we put together five packages to give members choices and options to find the best card,” she said. [email protected]

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