While most of the credit card industry has been beset by chargeoffs and delinquencies, Charles Cawley has guided MBNA America Bank and MBNA Corp. to another banner year.

Mr. Cawley, the bank's chairman and chief executive officer, has kept the company focused on affinity-group marketing, strong customer service, and expansion into platinum cards.

"It doesn't get easier every year," said Mr. Cawley, "because even though a lot of competitors are having difficult times, they're still ferociously competitive."

The bank's third-quarter chargeoff rate of 4.07% was below the industry average. As other issuers have been scorched by credit scoring, MBNA prides itself on having loan officers approve many applications.

Through the first three quarters, MBNA added 7.2 million accounts and 466 endorsements. Receivables stood at $42 billion on Sept. 30. No other player has grown so fast. Mr. Cawley said MBNA has retained 95% of the 350 or so affinity-group contracts up for renewal this year.

Some industry observers said MBNA, if it continues its growth pace, will overtake Citicorp next year to become the biggest in receivables.

That would happen without the addition of AT&T Universal Card accounts, the big portfolio for sale, which Mr. Cawley said MBNA has declined to bid for.

"Of course we're aware where we stand against Citi," said Mr. Cawley. But, he added, "We want to be the best, not the biggest."

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