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Taking credit cards in-house has been a boon for Tech CU

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Name: Technology Credit Union
Assets: $2.4 billion
Location: San Jose, Calif.
Category: In-House Credit Cards
Nominated by: Technology Credit Union

Technology Credit Union had a credit cards problem.

The $2.4 billion CU, based on San Jose, Calif., offered its plastic through a third-party vendor, and the program had several drawbacks. Two of the biggest issues were requiring members to apply for a credit card separately when opening an account – which led to confusion and extra steps – and difficulty getting approvals for applications from members to this country or with thin credit files.

“This denied access when Tech CU would have approved the applications,” the credit union said.

So in August 2016, Tech CU began offering in-house credit cards. Based on member feedback and research, the management team knew more than half of American consumers hold their main credit card with their primary financial institution. Although many members use Tech CU as their PFI, the lack of a credit card component was perceived as an “inconvenience.”

By offering an in-house card, Tech CU said, it became possible to give members a snapshot of all of their finances in one place, including deposits, loans and credit cards. The new program also simplified paying balances online or in-branch – something members could not do through the third party – and categorizing credit card expenditures, and widened the breadth and depth of Tech CU’s product offerings.

To create the perfect in-house credit card, Tech CU said it looked at the data. A majority of its members traveled internationally or were born outside the U.S., so the credit card needed to offer zero foreign transaction fees and no annual fee. It also had to provide auto rental collision benefits that resonated well with its members’ needs. Additional member requests fell into three categories: reward points, the lowest interest rate possible, good deals on balance transfers, and building credit or new to the country options.

With this feedback in mind, Tech CU designed three credit cards:

  • Tech CU VISA Signature with Rewards Points: Allows users to earn 1.25 reward points for every dollar spent on purchases. Points can be redeemed for merchandise, travel, gift cards and more.
  • Tech CU Visa Classic Card (Secured): Designed specifically to help people establish or rebuild credit.
  • Tech CU VISA Classic Card (Unsecured): Offers the lowest interest rate among the three cards. Great for everyday purchases.

In addition to the aforementioned features, Tech CU’s new credit cards are EMV-chip enabled, with a secure design. This includes the card number being listed on the back with only the card member’s name listed on the front, an aspect that is designed to provide additional protection from possible identity theft or fraud.
Since the credit card launch in August 2016, the number of people who have signed up has exceeded Tech CU’s marketing department’s goal by 41.3%.

“We are thrilled to have won a Best Practices award for bringing our credit cards in-house,” Jeannie Sugaoka, SVP of support services at Tech CU, told Credit Union Journal. “It was a true cross-company effort. We could not have done it without the help of many throughout the organization. Ultimately, we now are able to offer a much better credit card experience to our members, including quicker approvals, credit approvals for those who are new to the country and an overall higher standard when it comes to servicing.”

For all those efforts, Tech CU has earned a 2017 Best Practices Award from CU Journal.

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