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Credit issuers debate health of card market

Apr 12, 2012 Sean Albert

Should credit card companies increase offers to consumers? That is the question plaguing many in the industry, as recent consumer trends have been difficult to measure. On the one hand, the economy is improving, and Americans are spending more. However, debt levels are rising and there are few indications that employment trends are sufficient to expect sustainable returns for issuers. But one thing is clear: Demand for credit is strong. And credit unions may have a particular advantage. According to the Credit Union Times, roughly 425 existing credit unions sold their credit card portfolios to card-issuing banks between 2000 and 2010, of which 375 remain in business today. "It's a good time to get back in on the ground floor because of the cautiously optimistic comments being made by economists," said Caroline Lane, a senior vice president at CO-OP Financial Services, according to the source. "There are signs that things are sparking back to life and when consumer confidence returns, consumers use their credit cards." Furthermore, now is an ideal time because consumers are not receiving a flood of competing credit card or alternative credit offers, Lane added.