Personal Finance

Credit Complaint Database Could Benefit Small Banks

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A number of major banks have expressed some amount of consternation over the new credit card complaint database maintained by the federal government, but some experts say the program could be extremely helpful to smaller institutions.

The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new credit card complaint database collects the issues borrowers have lodged with the watchdog agency with in relation to their accounts, but only includes those cards issued by the nation’s top lenders, according to a report from the Credit Union Times. This is because the CFPB only has the power to regulate financial institutions with more than $10 billion in assets. As a consequence, some argue that smaller banks may be able to offer better offers for consumers and take a chunk of the big-bank customer base.

Since the database collects complaints about cards issued by larger banks, those accounts offered by credit unions may actually end up being more attractive by comparison, the report said. By not being associated with the kinds of consumer complaints that will likely be seen for most of, if not all, major banks, would-be borrowers may be more attracted to increased marketing efforts from smaller lenders.

However, consumer card advocate Ondine Irving also told the Credit Union Times that because many credit unions have partnered with major banks to increase the efforts to offer their credit card programs to consumers, they find that their accounts have been listed on the complaint database by association, the report said. But of the database’s first 137 listings, only one was for a card issued by a credit union’s partner. Recent studies by the Web comparison service have shown that as many as 92 percent of consumers check reviews online before investing in products and services.

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Consumers may find that the accounts they can get from smaller financial institutions may be easier to qualify for, and often come with more attractive rates and fees than the accounts from larger lenders, to which they may be more accustomed.

Image: RambergMediaImages, via Flickr

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