WASHINGTON – CUNA’s 2003 Environmental Scan report and video will include a segment weighing the pros and cons of a credit union selling its credit card portfolio – one of the major findings is just how many CUs have sold off their portfolios. “We had a lot of interest about the topic,” said Steve Rick, Senior Economist for CUNA. “It was a hot topic and so we decided it should be covered.” Rick is the author of the report’s chapter on Economics and Finance, which discusses the topic. The document cited research that indicated that 62% of surveyed credit union CEOs who reported that their card portfolios are shrinking or stagnant and another 25% have considered leaving the card business “due to competitive pressures.” The report also found that approximately 400 credit unions, or roughly 10% of the total number of credit unions that offer cards, have left the credit card business in the last three years. The E-Scan lists advantages and disadvantages of a credit union’s selling their card portfolio. Among the advantages listed are the premium offered, the influx of cash the sale can bring, the moving of a complicated product out of the day-to-day responsibilities of the credit union, allowing staff to be redirected, and reduced marketing costs. Among the disadvantages listed are a reduction of the credit union’s relationship with its members, loss of cross selling opportunities, as well uncertainty about the portfolio’s future management. In several places the report noted that credit card data can provide useful insights into a credit union member’s priorities and spending habits: “Credit cards provide a wealth of information about your members’ spending patterns,” the document said. “For example, do they use the card for transaction purposes or revolving the debt? Do they spend on home furnishings, travel, dining out or sports? All of this information allows for many cross selling opportunities if credit unions have the ability and desire to use it. Why sell the information off to a third party?” [email protected]

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