More evidence that credit unions are bucking the national trend of shrinking credit lines and diminishing use of credit cards.TNB Card Services, the card processing arm of credit union owned Town North Bank, reports a year-over-year 30% increase in the number of credit card accounts among its client credit unions. The card processor also reported an 8% increase in outstanding card balances."In many ways, the Credit CARD Act has given credit unions an unprecedented opportunity to change the credit card landscape and gain wallet share," said Mark Fenner, senior vice president, TNB Card Services. "Consumers are turning to credit unions because of their relationship philosophy and member-friendly card policies, which is gaining widespread media attention due to the predatory lending practices of many national financial institutions."Fenner added, "Credit unions are relying on our expertise to help them capitalize on their branch investments and employees in order to grow their card portfolios."As an example, MCT Credit Union of Port Neches, Texas, has added more than 300 new cardholders since January 2009 by implementing an in-branch card strategy developed by TNB. "For the past two years. we averaged eight new card accounts a month. Since we rolled out our in-branch card effort, which included in-depth employee training and an incentive program, we are now averaging 38 new card accounts per month," said Sandra Duvall, marketing director for MCT.Duvall added, "The in-branch program TNB put together for us has been so successful that we are planning on duplicating the ideas to help us cross sell all of our products within our branches."TNB's approach is significant as well because it demonstrates credit union success in bringing card marketing into branches. This is an approach many of the large issuers indicated they would try to adopt as the overall success rates of direct mail card marketing shrank. However, industry analysts have reported that few of the large issuers have met their card marketing goals through in-branch offerings.Some of the improved performance is likely due to the careful evaluation that TNB helps credit unions perform of their current branch profile to determine the sorts of members that use a given branch and the types of card offerings that would best suit them, the processor reported."The success of a card portfolio starts with a commitment from the chief executive officer," said Fenner. "Clients that have invested in training their employees about the value of their card products, as well as offering incentives, are experiencing card growth that can only be described as exceptional, particularly considering the state of the economy and the overall perception of the card industry."–[email protected]

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