Three Ways to Keep Credit Cards Top of Wallet During COVID-19


Credit unions of all sizes have known for many years that their members’ wants and needs may differ according to their age, job, familial situation or other circumstances. Membership can also vary according to geographic location. What some credit unions may not have expected, however, was for a global health crisis to impact the ways in which their members interact with their credit union and transact on a daily basis, and that these shifts may last well into the future.

Over the last several months, many credit unions have been faced with the challenge of determining what products and services to offer, along with how to keep their legacy card programs – like credit – top of wallet. Here are three ways credit unions can best position their credit card programs to remain top of wallet, even as members’ wants and needs continue to shift as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic:

1. Promote “clean” purchasing options

With heightened concerns around physical contact, members are seeking more sanitary and touchless means to conduct commerce and transactions, giving contactless cards and mobile wallets an advantage over cash and even traditional EMV-chipped cards. While some may think contactless cards and mobile wallets are competitors when it comes to share of wallet, credit unions should view both as vital options, limiting physical contact and allowing members to transact with their credit union-issued card.

According to PSCU’s data, Amazon – a top card-not-present (CNP) merchant – has experienced aggregate purchase volume increases across merchant categories as high as nearly 60% for credit purchases during the pandemic. Credit unions should educate members about how to utilize their credit cards for CNP purchases and recommend they have their credit union-issued card on file. The more ways members can pay – whether online, in-store, through an app or any other channel – the more likely they will choose to use or upload their credit union-issued card, securing the coveted top-of-wallet or top-of-card-on-file position.

2. Educate members about your credit union’s online and mobile offerings

When many branches closed due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, some members had to learn how to navigate digital banking online and through mobile apps for the first time – in other words, they underwent “forced training.” Now is the perfect time to let these members know what else they can do through these channels outside of just paying bills and checking balances, like the different redemption options that rewards cards offer or how to add their credit union card to a mobile wallet to easily transact from mobile phones and other wearables.

Remind members that still get statements in the mail that they have the option to receive eStatements instead. Not only is this a cost-saving opportunity for credit unions, but it is also another method of going “contactless” for members. Additionally, eStatements allow members to check balances as needed, which might make them feel their funds are more secure and that they are more in control of their finances.

When applicable, make these messages as member-centric as possible. Members want to know their credit union is there to support them and their communities during these challenging times. For example, some credit unions are giving members the opportunity to “donate” points toward a charity of choice versus trading points for travel or entertainment options that are currently on hold. Individual credit unions should carefully consider their unique membership profile to ensure they are providing members with what they want and need, and then communicate these features and functions with members regularly and through all available channels.

As branches re-open, educate team members and employees about all of these options and offerings as well in order to ensure members can get the information they need through the channel they prefer – whether that is online or in-branch.

3. Remind members of alerts, card lock and other available security measures

In times of economic uncertainty, it can be expected that members are watching their funds more closely and expect an elevated sense of security from their trusted banking partner. Communicate with members what security features – such as alerts and controls, card lock and more – are available from their credit union and how they can access these features, whether through the credit union app, contact center or online. Additionally, make sure to explain the safety and security of newer offerings like contactless and mobile wallets.

As the industry continues to grapple with the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative for credit unions to keep a pulse on their members’ behaviors and purchasing patterns. Promoting new offerings, reminding members of effective features and continuously educating them about how all of these items complement each other to provide a better financial future and best-in-class service is key.

Katie Kean is a principal director of credit consulting for Advisors Plus. Kean provides credit unions with the critical business intelligence needed to drive portfolio optimization and growth based on insights gained through competitive analysis, industry and peer benchmarking, product set assessments and projecting the impact of new technology. As an accomplished leader with over two decades of experience in financial services, Kean excels at enhancing portfolio profitability and member experience through technological innovation, strategic thinking and deep-dive market analysis.

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