In a friendly and easy-going South Carolina drawl, William Moore of SunTrust Banks Inc.'s new credit card bank recently reflected on how it shrugged, off growing pains.

"We hope it didn't impact us," Mr. Moore said in an interview about four months after SunTrust consolidated its 10 credit card operations in Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida into the newly chartered SunTrust Bankcard in Orlando.

He said SunTrust's service levels might have suffered, but it was hardly noticed.

Savings of $6 Million

It was the first such consolidation effort in SunTrust Banks history and may have ramifications in other parts of the Atlanta-based corporation. The goal was to save $5 million, but SunTrust Bankcard expects to save $6 million over three years, and looks forward to increasing profitability in the coming year.

SunTrust Bankcard has 820,000 cardholders and $723 million in outstandings. According to an American Banker survey, SunTrust Banks ranked 36th in bank credit card lending as of March 31.

For the most part, Mr. Moore said, the consolidation was seamless.

Customers Unaffected

We closed down without impacting the customers," he said. In fact, only a handful wrote letters because they were curious where their money would go.

"Strategically, we decided we would not keep profits," Mr. Moore said. "We want the banks to continue to sell the credit cards."

One of the hardest parts of the consolidation involved narrowing 600 different card products down to 18 that are competitively priced.

For example, SunTrust has a prime-plus-5% Visa or MasterCard gold card packaged with other bank products, such as deposit accounts. Customers pay no annual fee if they maintain a minimum balance in checking or savings.

Pricing Strategy

We relate pricing to the profitability of the relationship," Mr. Moore said.

For standard cards, customers can choose a Visa or MasterCard at prime plus 7.9%, which is competitive with national issuers, Mr. Moore said.

"We make every effort to price our card according to risk"' Mr. Moore said, "but we have to be very selective."

SunTrust will promote its cards through direct marketing, targeting particular segments. And the money that the credit card bank has committed to marketing will not be pulled away for other projects, which sometimes happens in smaller or less independent bank card operations.

Suntrust Bankcard's 300 employees accept applications, do the credit approval, and handle customer service calls in a 55,000-square-foot facility in the Central Park area of Orlando. Eventually, the facility will expand to 75,000 square feet.

Outsourcing Arrangement

The employees handle everything but merchant processing. which is outsourced to Total System Services Inc., Columbus, Ga.

Mr. Moore has two years of credit card experience under his belt.

The 59-year-old Blacksburg, S.C., native spent 34 years of his banking career in the consumer credit area. For 14 years he ran the statewide consumer lending business at Bankers Trust o, South Carolina.

Mr. Moore joined SunBank in Orlando in 1986 as executive vice president of consumer loan administration. He moved over to credit cards in 1991 and was named president and chief executive officer of SunTrust BankCard this year.

Mr. Moore has remained active in trade associations and civic organizations. He serves on the boards of the Boy Scouts of America and Junior Achievement.

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