No Hype, Just a Strong Selling Point On Card

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-Florida Baptist Credit Union believes it does not take a great deal of hype and marketing to get members to take the CU's credit card-just a couple strong selling points.

FBCU, which serves congregations of Baptist churches in Florida, has 1,400 of its 2,700 members carrying its credit card. CEO Perry Kenner attributes the success to the card's rate and to the fact that each year the CU donates a percentage of its overall profits to the Florida Baptist Convention.

"Our members know that when they swipe the card they are furthering the cause of Christ in this state," Kenner said. "Without doing anything extra, they are supporting local mission work and that appeals to a lot of people."

The $25-million CU donates a minimum of 10% of its profits each year to the Baptist charity, which uses the money to help start new churches in the Sunshine State. Even in years in which the credit union does not make profit, it still donates a set amount to the charity, Kenner explained. In 2010, for instance, Florida Baptist lost $163,000 after paying $53,243 for NCUA assessments. Capital stood at 10.15%.

What also attracts members to the plastic is the card's 10.95% rate, said Kenner. "If your rate is not competitive, members will go somewhere else, obviously. But our rate is about the best in the market."

The credit union has $1.2-million in card balances, due in part to it filling a niche left open by banks. FBCU has 10% of its card base in business credit cards. "Our business customers are churches," Kenner pointed out. "Banks do not feel comfortable underwriting church credit cards, so they let this business go. They like the real estate loans and the deposit relationships from churches, just not the cards."

Kenner explained FBCU's business card functions as a charge card, and that balances must be paid off monthly.

Kenner believes members take the CU's credit card because it furthers a feeling of a common bond. That affinity to Baptist churches is reflected in the artwork on the card-a picture of a church steeple set against a blue sky. "We know that appeals to our membership. It supports what they believe in and reflects their cause and purpose." The card's picture, Kenner added, sometimes gives members the chance to share their faith when someone sees the card and asks about an affinity to a local church.

Kenner noted that there is "nothing magical" about the credit union's ability to get members to use its credit card. "There are not a lot of options and program benefits like some of the large issuers. We basically have one story to tell, and combine that with a low rate and that seems to have appealed to a lot of people."

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