Credit/Debit cards.

Most credit union leaders are familiar with methods to optimize their credit card programs, yet a vast majority of them do not translate the same techniques to their debit card portfolios. This represents a significant missed opportunity, as debit interchange is likely the primary or secondary contributor of their noninterest income. Here, even nominal improvements can drive big benefits. While credit card purchases do generate more interchange on a per item basis, there is much more competition to have these programs earn top-of-wallet position – especially at smaller credit unions. Meanwhile, they often have the tools to effectively and more directly influence debit usage.

Credit unions should look to the metrics familiar to credit card program managers and apply them to debit. These metrics are defined as penetration, activation and utilization (or PAU). After all, this golden trifecta is the ultimate measure of any successful card portfolio.

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