Your credit card conversion survival guide

Conversion – it’s an industry term that describes the process of switching credit card platforms. Though it sounds pretty straightforward, the process is anything but basic. In fact, there is no such thing as a simple conversion.  

So why does a credit union do it? Largely, the decision to switch platforms comes from a desire to create a better credit card for the members. From digital wallets and advanced fraud protection to competitive rewards and on-point compliance, the capabilities it takes to market and manage a credit card portfolio are far from commonplace. Often a credit union finds the switch is necessary to remain relevant to an increasingly demanding consumer base.

Anyone who has navigated the winding path of a credit card conversion can tell you surprises are to be expected. That’s why having the right mindset at the beginning of the journey is so important. If you’re ready for that inevitable surprise around the next bend, the chances of it knocking you off course are far fewer.

Fortunately for those new to the process, many have traveled the roads to successful conversions. Their legendary tales help others in the movement avoid some of the roadblocks, snares and traps of what can be a complex voyage.

Here are a few pieces of advice to consider as you set your own course to conversion:

Talk early, talk often and talk loudly

When it comes to the little things in life, change continues to be pretty uncomfortable for most. Making the switch to a new credit card partner with minimal impact on members depends a great deal on cardmember attention, understanding and action. Before any changes that will impact the cardmember occur, share your plans for the conversion. And don’t be afraid to keep talking. If it feels like you are repeating the same thing over and over again, you’re doing it right.

Team up with like-minded partners

To weather the ups and downs of a conversion, teams must be able to rely on pre-established, consistent and honest dialogue. It helps even more if both sides of the partnership share the same core set of values. This is particularly important for credit unions, as finding another organization that lives and breathes the “people helping people” philosophy can be a challenge.

Put one foot in front of the other

Be aware that a conversion won’t happen overnight. The systems involved in a credit card conversion will not switch simultaneously. Internal and processor systems must be switched in a systematic order, and that process can span several days. Understand system freezes may take place, impacting things like processing payments and opening new accounts. Those freezes ensure every transaction is retained throughout the conversion, leaving members none the wiser.

Keep communication open

Leaving one partner for another can be awkward, especially when you need the full cooperation of all parties to make a conversion seamless for cardmembers. Set expectations of your current provider up front. Several reports must be generated on a routine basis to assist with the preparation of systems, collections and financial accounting. Even after the conversion is complete, you will still require your former partner’s participation, as there are reports for trailing and posting cardmember activity.

Don’t gloss over compliance

It can be tempting to push ahead when the path appears clear. But, thanks to the regulatory landscape we all traverse these days, we must proceed with absolute caution and adherence to the rules. Make sure everyone involved in the conversion understands the regulatory requirements so they can assist in a smooth, compliant conversion.

No one likes surprises. Well, some people do. But only the good ones, right? A successful card conversion comes with those, too. When the right mix of experts with the right mindset come together to execute a well thought-out conversion plan, magic happens… ensuring not every surprise is a bad one.

Ben Rempe

Ben Rempe

Ben Rempe is COO of fintech CUSO LenderClose. With API connections to every vendor it takes to originate a mortgage or HELOC, LenderClose gives loan officers immediate access to a ... Web: Details