Issuers have different marketing strategies for mature credit cardholders, some counting on their branches to issue cards tied to bank products, while others issuing cards based on senior club memberships.
The following is a look at a three clubs for people 50 and older and the cards issued for them.
The Farmers State Bank in Marion, Iowa, a suburb of Cedar Rapids, introduced the Silver Society in 1989, a club for people 55 and older who maintain a $10,000 balance in a bank account.
A year later the bank began issuing a Silver Society credit card. People over 62 can get the MasterCard with no annual fee; others pay $15. The MasterCard or Visa carry a fixed 14.4% annual rate, but there is no fee for cash advances.
Convenience for Travel
The bank, with $200 million in assets, has 281 credit-card accounts with outstandings under $25,000.
A Silver Society member's credit card payment can be deducted from a deposit account, which makes it convenient for those who travel.
"They like that a lot, especially if they go to Sun City [for vacation[," said Jan Airy, bank card manager.
She described Silver Society card members as stable users, but not lucrative. "The great majority do not revolve," she said. "Our biggest challenge is to try to encourage usage."
The bank does this by planning monthly meetings and events, tours, and the like.
Ms. Airy said there is healthy competition among local banks for deposits. "[The Silver Society] is just a way to get a good, old solid deposit."
O. Jay Tomson, chairman of the Bank of Charles City, in Charles City, Iowa, created the Heritage Club 15 years ago for people 55 and older. More than 250 similar clubs have sprouted around the nation since.
"In the rural community in upper Midwest, we have a significant portion of our population that is 60 and older" Mr. Tomson said. He cited research that shows Iowa has more people in this age group than any state except Florida. "As you do market segmentation, you look at this sector and how to serve their financial needs," he said. "Often you accommodate them through cross-selling."
Some 2,000 members of the Heritage Club get free checking if they have $1,500 to $2,000 on deposit. The bank has more than $45 million in deposits. There are 3,750 club members.
With credit cards, they want good rates, he said. The bank offers cards with $10 to $12 annual fees and rates from 11% to 14%. The cards are issued through IBAA Bankcard Inc., Arlington, Va.
Bank of Charles City, a subsidiary of First Citizens Financial Corp., a $380 million-asset holding company, and four other banks issue Visa and MasterCards to some $4,000 people, with an estimated $1 million in outstandings.
The club card program represents 40% of the overall card program, Mr. Tomson said, with less than 2,000 cards. "People want the Heritage Club card for the one-to-one relationship and account resolution we provide."
Wall Street Club
Union Planter's National Bank in Memphis, Tenn., began issuing a card to members of Louis Rukeyser's Wall Street Club in July 1993.
Today some 12,000 of the club's 400,000 members carry the cobranded card.
Luis Betancourt, marketing director of member services for the Alexandria, Va.-based club, said the it is for members interested in the markets. Louis Rukeyser serves as host for the TV program "Wall Street Week."
Members are mostly men, 75% are over 50, and 92% have incomes over $150,000, he said.
"We don't go out specifically marketing the card," Mr. Betancourt said.
The Louis Rukeyser MasterCard comes with a prime-minus-10-basis-points rate for six months, then adjusts to prime plus 2.9%. The card has no annual fee or cash advance fee.
Union Planters, $25 billion asset bank, issues a no-fee gold MasterCard in the cobranded program with a 13.5% rate.
"We've gotten a good response, with good outstandings," said Dianne Stigall, senior vice president of Union Planters. "The low rate has met the need for those individuals."