Magazine article American Banker

Command Credit Taking Ethnic Route to Expand Its Secured Card Program

Magazine article American Banker

Command Credit Taking Ethnic Route to Expand Its Secured Card Program

Article excerpt

Command Credit Corp., which has been struggling to become a force in secured credit card marketing, is going ethnic. The company said it is entering partnerships to reach Native Americans through United Indian Credit Union, black women through Essence magazine, and Polish-Americans through Wawel Savings Bank of Wallington, N.J.

Command, based in Rockville Centre, N.Y., said it has signed 15 agreements to offer both secured and unsecured credit cards to such affinity groups. Its only previous contract was with First National Bank of Marin in California, which ended over a year ago.

But no cards have been issued in the affinity programs. Command is still in what its management calls a "development stage," and its planned merger last year with Suburban Bankshares of Lake Worth, Fla., which would have facilitated card issuance, never came to fruition.

William G. Lucas, Command Credit's chairman and chief executive officer, said he hopes to have the Essence program launched by April or May.

Way to Establish Credit

Command announced the Wawel Savings Bank alliance on Jan. 5. Without specifying a schedule, it said it would offer secured cards, allowing customers to build a credit history by collateralizing their credit lines with a certificate of deposit. Later, the customers could upgrade to conventional, unsecured credit card lines.

"The Polish community, as well as many other ethnic markets, has been sorely neglected by banks," Mr. Lucas said.

"Our research has discovered that ethnic extractions tend to cling together and go with a bank that understands their needs and requirements," he added in an interview. …

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