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Working with its card processor, TNB Card Services in Dallas, Abilene Teachers FCU said "aggressive promotion" has enabled it to increase outstanding balances even as the number of accounts has remained flat. Credit union President James Boyd said that unlike some credit unions, he isn't trying to build up the number of cardholders among the almost entirely education-focused membership of 21,000.

"New cards are such a cutthroat business," Boyd said. "I have come to accept that we are not a huge financial institution. That means we need to work our niche as best we can. We need to make sure that the people who do have our cards use them. That is where I have focused."

TNB Card Services reported that from 1999 through 2004, outstanding balances at ATFCU increased by 35%, while the number of accounts was flat. In addition average credit line climbed 47%, due largely to successful use of the automatic credit line increase program from TNB.

"This program works really well," Boyd said. "You take accounts that have had no problems and no delinquency, and give them credit line increases even if they don't ask."

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