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Banks That Issue the First Credit Card in Wallets Have Opportunity to Grow with Consumers’ Incomes

August 18, 2014

(New York, NY):  Becoming the first credit card in a person’s wallet has long-term financial benefits for banks; the average account tenure is 17.4 years. Further, more than two in five (41%) consumers report that they also have some other type(s) of account(s) with the same bank in addition to their credit card, most commonly checking and savings accounts. The results were published in Cardbeat®, a syndicated research report published by the Auriemma Consulting Group, Inc. (ACG), and is based on a web-based survey of credit card users in the U.S.

Logically, most (64%) consumers indicate that they applied for their first card in order to establish their credit history. Additionally, the largest percentage (71%) of these consumers cite a specific life-event being associated with their first credit card acquisition, with many being related to educational milestones such as college or high school graduations. In theory bank transactional data, as well as lower-tech solutions such as having retail bank salespeople help to manage consumer relationships can enable banks to market to consumers during these life events.

Although direct mail remains an important acquisition channel for credit cards, in recent years, branches have been a rapidly-growing acquisition channel for new cards for a number of large banks. In fact, branches or other facilities that offer face-to-face consumer interactions are now responsible for nearly half (45%) of all new credit cards sold.

However, retail banks face challenges, notably, most new credit cards are issued to the Millennial population (born between the years of 1981-1991, now between the ages of 23-34), and this demographic segment is much more likely than other age groups to avoid visiting bank branches completely, preferring to conduct most of their routine bank business at ATMs or online instead. This makes reaching them more difficult than it was for prior generations. Some financial institutions have started to experiment with concepts like video chats with bank call center reps right from the ATM. While these are still in trial phases, its definitely a step in the right direction.

Marianne Berry, Managing Director of the Payment Insights practice at ACG, says that the overall message to banks is clear:  the benefits of being the first credit card in someone’s wallet are genuine, and these tend to be long-lasting, attractive consumer relationships. She says, “While most of the Millennial population cannot yet be defined as affluent based on income or assets, there is little doubt that in time, some will become affluent.”  Ms. Berry adds the banks that establish relationships with Millennials now, during their formative years, will have a unique opportunity to grow and expand existing relationships with these consumers as their personal wealth grows.

About Auriemma Consulting Group

ACG is a boutique management consulting firm with specialized focus on the Payments and Lending space. We deliver actionable solutions and insights that add value to our clients’ business activities across a broad set of industry topics and disciplines.  Founded in 1984, ACG has grown from a one-man shop to a nearly 50-person firm with offices in New York and London.  Visit ACG’s website at http://www.acg.net/.  For more information about ACG’s research, please contact Marianne Berry at (212) 323-7000 or marianne.berry@acg.net.