The $5.3 billion American Airlines Credit Union reported that its relatively young credit card program has remained strong during the great recession.

The Fort Worth, Texas, credit union was the last of the CUs of above a billion in assets to have launched a card program when it got under way in 2004.

According to Nancy Crouch, director of card services, the credit union has seen its card programs grow by double digits in both account numbers and balances throughout the recession.  The credit union’s data reported to NCUA indicated the card program ended March 2011 with a delinquency rate of 1.23%.

Crouch attributed the steady growth, in part, to the credit union’s decision not to use promotional or introductory offers to market its cards as much as focusing on maintaining the lowest percentage rates and fewest fees as possible. 

She also credited a program that focused on making card marketing a central part of the credit union’s overall marketing structure.

As of the end of March, AACU reported having just more than 35,000 active card accounts that carried $111 million in balances.