Santa Claus Has Come to Town for Credit Unions

Wells Fargo is handing credit unions Christmas early!

Sarah Snell Cooke, Monday, July 19

CNBC recently reported that Wells Fargo, the megabank, is shutting off all personal lines of credit, and its customers are steamed over the decision. Because the lender is shutting them off, not only do the borrowers lose their lines of credit, but it will also negatively affect their credit scores.

The announcement came just months after Wells Fargo stopped offering new home equity lines of credit, and only a couple of years after the scandal of systemic fake account openings.

Credit unions can truly leverage this opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to serving these everyday consumers because it is obvious this megabank isn’t interested. Personal loans and credit cards are critical financial tools for many in your credit union’s community to manage surprise expenses. The more people we can save from payday lenders with small lines of credit or credit cards, the sooner we can build more economically stable and viable communities.

Credit unions have not performed very well when it comes to credit cards. While growth in credit card lending among all issuers remained flat in April of this year, credit unions decreased 7%. While auto loans are valuable, credit unions must better diversify income streams. Yes, credit cards are a competitive field, but partners offering merchant-paid rewards – or even cash rewards which are consumers’ favorite – can help your portfolio tremendously. Here’s how:

  1. Market your credit cards at various member touchpoints, whether your ATM, in the branch, digital communications, and direct mail. Ser Tech’s Fetch Marketing, employing extensive data analytics capabilities, can help target market your ideal members for these offers.
  2. Build a strong rewards program to draw in new card users. Particularly, if you can get to the top of the digital wallet, that will help with consistent usage.
  3. Offer balance transfer deals, especially during the holiday hangover period at the new year.
  4. Ensure you keep members educated about their credit score, what impacts their score, and proper management of credit as a wealth-building tool.
  5. Provide members with their true FICO credit score for extra stickiness in your digital banking platforms and making better-educated borrowers.
  6. Review your portfolio regularly, down to the account level, to ensure you manage which cardholders should receive more credit and who might need assistance in other ways.

Credit unions have a golden opportunity to show consumers their offerings and demonstrate their philosophy for greater relevance. Be sure that your credit union is taking advantage of the opportunities presented to us, courtesy of the megabanks, as well as others for a more well-rounded loan portfolio and happier members.