A report shows credit unions are adding more credit-card accounts, and three processors dominate the market.

The survey, commissioned by Callahan & Associates Inc., a Washington- based consulting firm, showed that Equifax Inc., CUNA Service Group Card Services, and Payment Systems for Credit Unions share 78.9% of the pie.

The second annual survey looked at 2,239 credit unions with more than $25 million in assets.

Equifax had the lead with 31.2% of card accounts, CUNA had 31%, and Payment Systems had 16.7%. First Data Corp. was fourth at 6.7%.

"It shows that credit unions overwhelmingly select vendors who have a commitment to the credit union movement," said Raymond H. Springsteen, director of marketing, Callahan and Associates. "Larger companies don't have as large a share, because they don't serve credit unions."

He added that over the last two years, credit-card accounts have jumped 26%.

Callahan & Associates reported the total number of credit-card outstandings for credit unions was $15.3 billion at June 30. For the same period, there were 11,843 credit unions nationally with 12 million credit-card accounts.

However, credit unions with $25 million or more had 10.7 million credit- card accounts and outstandings of $13.9 billion.

Lesia Bullock, spokeswoman for the National Credit Union Administration, Alexandria, Va., said that credit unions with credit-card programs are in the minority.

"Only the larger credit unions, which are in the minority, have the assets to effectively manage credit-card programs," she said.

Ms. Bullock attributed the rise in credit-card accounts to the increase in consumer demand for credit.

"More consumers are dependent on installment lending," she said. "Credit unions are getting into that area because credit unions tailor their business to what their members need."

Michael D. Bush, senior vice president and general manager for Equifax Card Services, Atlanta, called credit unions "a significant business for (Equifax) today."

He disputed the Callahan findings, saying that Equifax, with five million credit union credit-card accounts, had a 36.4% market share.

"Really, the importance of the credit-card product is that it ties the customer tighter into your financial institution," he added. "Credit unions, in general, fall right into our market."

Elizabeth Taylor Quilliam, chief customer relations officer for CUNA, said credit unions need to offer a broad range of financial services to stay competitive.

She said the typical credit union credit card has, on average, an annual percentage rate 500 basis points below the normal bank card.

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