Three popular affinity card designs. The big orange card is particularly popular, University of Illinois Credit Union said.

It’s rare that a novice credit union member signs up for his or her CU’s credit card right off the bat. The first account is usually a savings or share account, often followed by a checking account for the debit card. Sometimes if there is an indirect lending program, new members join to obtain the favorable rates on auto loans. But credit unions have often had to cross-sell members their credit cards, almost as an afterthought.

But this has not been the case at the 40,000-member, $264 million University of Illinois Employees Credit Union, which has seen a small surge of new members attracted by the CU’s affinity card linked to the University of Illinois Alumni Association.

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