Truliant revamps flagship credit card as broader credit usage declines

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Truliant Federal Credit Union in Winston-Salem, N.C., has tweaked its flagship credit card, eliminating fees on the variable-rate card.

A Tuesday press release from the $3.1 billion-asset institution noted that the move is intended to better differentiate Truliant’s credit card offering in an already crowded market. The card is known as the “Transparent Card” because of its pricing features as well as a see-through circle at the center of the card.

“There are so many cards on the market, many offering bonus points and bonus cash,” Chris Murray, SVP of member experience and operations, said in the release. “But the fees and the rate are typically very high. We listened to our members and wanted to make the credit card experience easier, more convenient and less complex. Our Transparent Card sends the message that you can find this with Truliant.”

Truliant’s net earnings at the end of June were down 37% from one year prior, though interest income was up 7.5%, according to call report data from the National Credit Union Administration. Credit card growth here, however, has remained essentially unchanged, with total balances increasing just 40 basis points year-over-year and fewer than 1,000 new loans added to the books.

Truliant’s decision to limit fees on the Transparent Card could cut into noninterest revenue streams. The card includes no annual fees as well as no fees for late or returned payments, balance transfers, cash advances and more. Second-quarter noninterest income at Truliant stood at $23.8 million, a 17% lift over the same period last year.

“As a credit union, we make sure our member-owners have options that positively impact their bottom line," Murray said via email. "We’re not trying to nickel and dime them with fees to grow our balance sheet, especially during a time when we know financial hardship is increasing. We thoughtfully revamped this card because giving them a great rate and no fees – and being transparent about it – is a message that will resonate and help our program continue to grow.”

Truliant’s move comes as new data from the Federal Reserve showed a sixth consecutive month of declining credit card balances because of reduced consumer spending. Credit card usage among credit union members is also declining, with total balances at the end of June standing at $60.9 billion, down from $62.4 billion one year prior.

This story was updated at 5:01 P.M. on Oct. 8, 2020.

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