For banks, relationships with wealthy individuals are by far the most profitable. This is the result of more spending on the cards, annuals fees charged to customers, and lower likelihood of default. Unfortunately for Bank of America's (NYSE:BAC) credit card business, the outlook appears awfully gloomy:

Source: JPMorgan Chase Investor Relations. 

Based on this chart alone, it's easy to come to the conclusion that Bank of America has some serious ground to gain in courting wealthy customers. 

Trading places
That's not the entire story, however.

When moving beyond which credit card wealthy customers would simply consider to which they actually use as their primary credit card, it turns out the picture looks much different for Bank of America:

Source: JPMorgan Chase Investor Relations.

While Bank of America still trails JPMorgan Chase and American Express, it's penetration into the wealthy customer market looks much more acceptable. So while Bank of America's credit card might not be one that's often considered by wealthy customers, the facts on its actual use don't lie.


Things may be looking up for Bank of America.

The reason for optimism
With that in mind, there are two key takeaways.

First, and most obvious, when it comes to actual use, Bank of America is in a much better place than what one may initially think.

Bank of America notes a customer moving from a checking account to having the bank as their primary account results in revenue per customer ballooning from $340 to $600. So its ability to ensure its wealthiest customers consider the cards it offers as their primary one is encouraging from a top-line perspective.

Second, with 72% of wealthy individuals not considering a card relationship with Bank of America, it shows there's still a lot of room for growth. With such a strong level of use compared with to a weak level of future consideration, this suggests some sort of disconnect between the company's effectiveness at gaining new wealthy customers versus retaining existing ones.

With the amount of credit cards issued rising by 22% year over year to 3.9 million cards in 2013, a continuation of this high level growth can lead to big results to the top and bottom lines, as 12.5% of the company's non-interest revenue comes from this source.

It's encouraging to know Bank of America is able to ensure those who have a credit card consider it as the credit card in their wallets. With continued growth and an increased focus on new customers, that number should only continue to rise.

Patrick Morris owns shares of Bank of America. The Motley Fool recommends American Express and Bank of America. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, Citigroup, and JPMorgan Chase. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.