Consumer Payment Card News

Tiny Issuers

While the ten largest issuers control more then three-quarters of the total bank credit card market, there are thousands of tiny players successfully competing. Based on issuer date for the first three months of this year, average balances and volume for credit cards issued by credit unions, exceed the stats of the top players. Average balances, per active account, among credit union portfolios are $2,562 compared to an average balance of $2,385 for the top ten U.S. issuers. Credit unions also reported an average first quarter volume of $1,231 per active account versus $1,096 for the top ten. In nearly all other categories, credit union credit card accounts posted higher levels. Credit unions for Pentagon and Navy employees, as well as other military facilities, post some of the strongest activity. Small issuers, such as credit unions and community banks, are an excellent, but often overlooked, source of good credit card deals. However, if you want perks and a fat credit line, you’ll have to stay with the big guns.

                       CREDIT CARD SEGMENTS
                        1Q/02 vs 1Q/01)
                                          BAL         VOL
               Cobranded/Affinity:     $2471         $1143
               Sub-Prime/Secured       $1524         $ 489
               Low Rate >$2 Billion    $2393         $1088
               Low Rate <$2 Billion    $1838         $1245
               Non-Bank                $2018         $ 811
               Credit Unions           $2562         $1231
               Top Ten                 $2385         $1096
               BAL- average balance per active account; VOL -
               average year-to-date volume per active account
               Source: Bankcard Barometer (

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