Credit Card Grrl

The 411 on the marketing side of the credit card industry

20070110

Credit card cell phones?

Call me an old fuddy duddy, but the idea of using my cell phone as a credit card makes me nervous.

Visa, Nokia turn cell phones into credit cards
Same article on CNET

Anyone have any thoughts about this?


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Please note that any links directly to card product offers are provided for informational purposes only. Any descriptions within this post about an offer may not necessarily align with the offer to which these links connect.

20061207

Brazil: Citigroup Exercises Option to Retain Credicard Brand

São Paulo – Citigroup yesterday exercised its option to keep the Credicard brand. Credicard, of which Citi was a managing partner for over 30 years, is the pioneer brand, synonym of credit cards in Brazil and perfect to allow Citigroup to continue to expand is retail operations in the Brazilian market. The exclusive use of the Credicard brand by Citigroup will occur beginning January 1, 2009.

"We are very proud of this decision, given that Credicard is the pioneer brand in this industry and a symbol of credit cards amongst the Brazilian public. This event demonstrates Citi's firm commitment in maintaining a vigorous growth in Brazil and in being among the main credit card issuers in the country," said Gustavo Marin, CEO of Citigroup in Brazil. "Citigroup identified Brazil as one of the key countries where it will grow significantly," added Marin.

For Hector Nevarez, president of Credicard Citi, "the Credicard brand has always had a DNA focused on success. With the option of exclusive use, Citigroup will boost the brand even further, based on Credicard Citi's performance." The values that created Credicard's success in the market, such as innovation, pioneering business practices, transparency, and investment in an extremely competent team of professionals, were complemented by Citigroup's international know-how.

Following the split, in May of 2006, Credicard Citi began its process to lead the Brazilian credit card market to a new level of development: a change based on cutting-edge technology, that perfects the relationship with the clients, bringing real benefits aligned to the needs of the different profiles of credit card holders.

The third largest in the Brazilian credit cards market among the private issuers, Credicard Citi has bold growth plans – in 2006 the results were extremely significant – a success achieved during a year in which the team worked in the midst of the split environment.



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Citigroup
Citigroup, the leading global financial services company, has some 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 100 countries, providing consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, and wealth management. Major brand names under Citigroup's trademark red umbrella include Citibank, CitiFinancial, Primerica, Smith Barney and Banamex. Additional information may be found at www.citigroup.com.


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Please note that any links directly to card product offers are provided for informational purposes only. Any descriptions within this post about an offer may not necessarily align with the offer to which these links connect.

Greece: Citibank Cards' Client Purchases Transforms Buying into Giving to "Mazi Gia to Paidi" Non-Profit Organization

Athens – For the second consecutive year, Citibank dedicates January to the support of the non-profit organization "Mazi Gia to Paidi." With the participation of many new and existing cardholders it is expected to result in an impressive donation for the children who really need support. Last year, the same campaign resulted in the contribution of 61,000 euros for the work of "Mazi Gia to Paidi."

More specifically, for every transaction with Citibank Visa or Citibank MasterCard in January 2007, Citibank will give €0.15 to "Mazi Gia to Paidi." This contribution is done without any further expense for the cardholders, providing one more important reason to use Citibank cards.

This year, Citibank's campaign will also be supported by the magazine Real Simple, as a communication sponsor and the Hellenic Theatre Company, which will offer a free theater ticket to the children of "Mazi Gia to Paidi."

The favorable response of the public during the first campaign for the children has proven the importance of being able to support a good cause in a simple way through daily transactions. This is the reason why Citibank is cooperating again with the non-profit organization "Mazi Gia to Paidi," and continues to support the effort to give smiles and happiness to the children that need them the most.

The organization "Mazi Gia to Paidi" consists of ten non-profit institutions, aiming at providing material, mental, and ethical care to children and young people that suffer, either due to some mental or physical disease, or due to a death of a beloved person, as well at supporting their families mentally and socially.



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Citibank Greece
Citibank has been active in Greece since 1964. At present, the bank has 65 sale points and 150 ATMs in country, employing in total more than 1,300 employees. The Citibank Consumer Group offers products and services in a range of bank accounts, mutual fund investments, financial services, insurance programs, loans and full range of credit cards. For more information visit www.citibank.gr.

Citigroup
Citigroup, the leading global financial services company has some 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 100 countries, providing consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, and wealth management. Major brand names under Citigroup's trademark red umbrella include Citibank, CitiFinancial, Primerica, Smith Barney and Banamex. Additional information may be found at www.citigroup.com.



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Please note that any links directly to card product offers are provided for informational purposes only. Any descriptions within this post about an offer may not necessarily align with the offer to which these links connect.

20061127

Jim Cramer sez: buy credit card stocks

Article here

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Please note that any links directly to card product offers are provided for informational purposes only. Any descriptions within this post about an offer may not necessarily align with the offer to which these links connect.

20061124

AmEx Blue - Triple points

Looks like American Express is hoping to juice its Blue cardholders into using it for holiday purchases. They're offering triple points for any purchase made with the card at BonusPointsMall.com

After 12/31, you'll get two points per dollar spent. I wonder if anyone uses these special websites, and if AmEx gets some sort of affiliate marketing kickback to boot.

Shopping for the holidays is too far away to even think about right now, so who knows if I'll be taking advantage.

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Please note that any links directly to card product offers are provided for informational purposes only. Any descriptions within this post about an offer may not necessarily align with the offer to which these links connect.

Credit companies unite to fight fraud

From a 09.25.06 article in Red Herring


Unsafe Sales

It seems like every day brings news of another case of online theft of credit card information. Facing declining consumer confidence, five major credit card players have come together to fight payment fraud. Their plan? Form a consortium, set clear requirements on security measures for businesses and institutions handling credit card information, and make it impossible for those who don’t comply to be in business.

Formed on September 7 by American Express, Discover Financial Services, JCB, MasterCard Worldwide, and Visa International, the Payment Card International Security Standards Council marks the formalization of a process initiated last year. One in three online shoppers are buying fewer items online because of security concerns, according to a June 2005 survey of 5,000 U.S. adults by Gartner.

Amid rising fraud from the loss or theft of credit card information—often the result of poor security in card processing—Visa and MasterCard created the Payment Card Industry data security standard in January 2005. It laid out 12 requirements relating to encryption of cardholder data, network scans, and activity monitoring and logging.

But analysts criticized the standards for being too broad and not stringent enough.

Now, the consortium has set out additional guidelines. Instead of suggesting companies update security measures “periodically” or “regularly,” the guidelines set annual and quarterly deadlines. It also suggests a source code analysis of custom applications to search for vulnerabilities so that loopholes commonly exploited by hackers can be plugged. Merchants and service providers risk having their credit processing credential revoked if they do not comply.

The new standards could result in a windfall for a number of security startups specializing in these products since merchants will have to buy additional software or hardware to meet the requirements.

The new guidelines will also apply to organizations, such as universities, that process or store credit cards but which were earlier out of the purview of the PCI standard, says Amichai Shulman, CTO of Imperva, a Foster City, California-based data security company.


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Please note that any links directly to card product offers are provided for informational purposes only. Any descriptions within this post about an offer may not necessarily align with the offer to which these links connect.

20061121

Automotive credit cards

Here's an article in Edmunds.com on the top ten automotive credit cards.


Top 10 Automotive Credit Cards
By Nate Chapnick

In their quest for a new car, Harry and Charlotte Siegel of Boynton Beach, Florida, are considering a variety of crossover vehicles. General Motors is the only brand on their radar screen. How did GM create such incredible loyalty? "Not entirely because of their products," says Harry Siegel, "but because we have a GM credit card."

For smart shoppers like the Siegels, a strategically used credit card can save thousands of dollars on the cost of a new vehicle. From rebates that offset the cost of a new vehicle to discounts on parts and service, automotive-branded credit cards increase buying power by making the most of your daily purchases.



GM Card
Since GM initiated its automotive credit card program in 1992, more than 5 million consumers have redeemed their GM credit card earnings. This successful credit card program allows users to earn 5 percent on all purchases with no limit, and with no annual fee. However, your GM card earnings may be redeemed only for new GM vehicles, which are subject to varying redemption limits. For example, a Cadillac SRX has a $3,000 redemption cap, while the hot-selling Cadillac Escalade has a $1,500 limit. The GM credit card gives you the highest return of any automotive credit card, but the redemption restrictions may prevent you from taking full advantage of your accumulated rebate dollars.


Mercedes-Benz Visa Signature Card
Of a status comparable to driving a Mercedes-Benz, the Mercedes-Benz Visa Signature Card is offered only to Mercedes-Benz owners. This exclusive card earns 1.5 points for every dollar spent. Thrifty Mercedes-Benz owners who spend $10,000 will receive a $150 coupon to defray the cost of a new Mercedes-Benz vehicle, parts or service. Plus, there's no limit to the number of accruable points, though they expire after five years. A Visa Signature Card brings enviable perks with it, including a free concierge service to help you obtain reservations at popular restaurants or tickets to sold-out Yankees games. Most Mercedes-Benz cardholders will probably not be fazed by the card's $90 annual fee.


Citi Driver's Edge Platinum Select MasterCard
Citibank's Driver's Edge card is the only credit card on the Top 10 list with rebates applicable toward the purchase of any vehicle brand, new or used. Cardholders earn 1 percent on all purchases, except for gas, drugstore and supermarket purchases, on which they earn a whopping 6 percent during the first year. Afterwards, earnings on these purchases drop to 3 percent. Plus, earn $1 for every 100 miles you drive, up to $500 or 50,000 miles. Miles are verified by Citibank when you submit a receipt for scheduled maintenance showing your odometer reading. Rebates are capped at $1,000 per year. For discerning car shoppers who don't want to be locked into buying a particular brand, the Citi Driver's Edge MasterCard is the perfect solution.


Subaru Platinum MasterCard
Next to the GM card, Subaru's 3-percent rebate on all purchases is the most rewarding automotive-branded credit card. However, the Subaru card limits earnings to $500 annually and a maximum of $2,000 over a four-year period, when they expire. Subaru rebates are redeemable for new cars, parts, accessories and service at Subaru dealerships throughout the continental United States.


Lexus Pursuits Visa
Lexus' program earns cardholders five "points" (i.e., 5 percent) for every dollar charged at a Lexus dealership, and 1.5 points (1.5 percent) for every dollar charged anywhere else. Need a new Lexus or service on your existing one? Spend $5,000 and receive a coupon for at least $75, redeemable at a Lexus dealership. Unlike the BMW Visa card, Lexus' card charges no annual fee.


Chrysler Rewards Visa
With the Chrysler Rewards Visa, cardholders earn five points for every dollar charged at Chrysler, Jeep or Dodge dealerships and one point per dollar charged everywhere else. Unlike most other automotive credit cards, these points can be redeemed for a new or used Chrysler. The Chrysler Rewards card has no annual fee and no caps, though points expire after five years.


Mini Platinum Visa
As hip as the car itself, the coolest credit card on our list is by far the Mini Platinum Visa: It allows cardholders to customize their credit cards to look exactly like their own Mini. Wheels, mirrors, add-ons and colors can be configured to make your Mini card unique. Mini Motoring Rewards offers users one point per every dollar spent and two points for car washes, gasoline, tolls and similar car-related purchases. Cardholders earn up to $10,000 off their next Mini purchase or lease ($5,000 off on a purchase or lease and an additional $5,000 off if financed by Mini Financial Services).


Audi Visa Signature Card
Audi's exclusive Visa Signature Card rewards Audi enthusiasts with one point per dollar spent anywhere, and two points on all purchases at participating Audi dealers. Points can be redeemed for a new Audi and Audi parts, accessories and services. Though the Audi points program is less economically rewarding than some others, exclusive perks such as concierge services and travel assistance help make the Visa Signature Card a great choice for any Audi aficionado.


Volkswagen Platinum Visa with Rewards Card
For every dollar spent on the Volkswagen Platinum Visa (subject to a $500 annual earnings cap), you receive one point that can be used toward Volkswagen purchases (new vehicles, accessories, service and parts). If you're a hard-core VW fan and wish to wear your VW on your credit card, then this is the card for you.


BMW Platinum Visa
BMW owners rejoice with the Platinum Visa, which allows cardholders to earn up to $5,000 off on a BMW financial services lease or loan. Earn one BMW reward point for every $2 spent with your card, i.e., 0.5 percent. For example, with this card, if you charge $20,000, you'll earn 10,000 BMW rewards points. These can be redeemed for a $100 lease or loan coupon from BMW Financial Services or applied to parts, accessories, lease-mile extensions and service costs.


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Please note that any links directly to card product offers are provided for informational purposes only. Any descriptions within this post about an offer may not necessarily align with the offer to which these links connect.

20061117

WSJ article: Credit-card appeal

Credit-Card Appeal:
A New Look, Smell Cool Designs Vie for'Top of Wallet' Position, More-Frequent Use
By ROBIN SIDEL
November 15, 2006; Page C1

Forget about low interest rates, rewards points and free balance transfers. To attract new customers in a crowded market, the nation's credit-card issuers are pitching cards with sleek features, including a hefty one that its promoters say has "plunk factor."

Inspired by consumer interest in eye-catching products like retro toasters and fashionable can openers that have moved from the cupboard to the countertop, credit-card companies are creating unique cards aimed at winning the coveted "top of wallet" position -- the card pulled out the most often.

American Express Co. is testing a "Butterfly" card that folds in half and pops out of a silver case attached to a key ring. Other issuers and card makers are experimenting with cards that feature various textures, light and sound, as well as high-tech security features.

"There is a lot of conversation about how to introduce innovation into the credit-card market and design is part of that," says Peter Vaughn, vice president of brand management at American Express.

There is good reason for it. After years of double-digit balance growth, the card industry is maturing. Financial institutions that issue cards can now count on only single-digit growth in balances, an important industry metric (also called receivables).

To combat the slowdown, card companies are working aggressively to steal customers from competitors. They also are trying to get consumers to put more small payments on plastic, taking market share away from cash and checks. To do both, they need to breathe new life into a nation that is awash in 1.5 billion credit, debit and gift cards, according to CardWeb.com, an online publisher of payment-card information.

Although good-looking cards might not translate into low interest rates or juicy rewards, industry executives say that internal research shows consumers care about card appearance. In the 1990s, MBNA Corp., now part of Bank of America Corp., helped transform the industry by tapping customer emotions with credit cards that were splashed with pictures of their favorite universities, hobbies and sports teams. The increased popularity of gift cards has also sparked a slew of designs.

Taking that concept to the realm of science fiction, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., one of the nation's largest issuers, is offering "Battlestar Galactica" fans a fiery red, outer-space-themed card. Tied to the revival of the cult science-fiction television series, the card features an embossed tagline that identifies the cardholder as a "Galactica Fleet Member."

"It's one of the very few financial-services products that is tangible and very visible to others," says Monish Kumar, a director in the financial-services practice at the Boston Consulting Group in New York.

The card-design boom recently got a boost when American Express licensed the technology used to create its popular transparent credit card, Blue. The clear card's unusual look received a wave of attention when it was first issued in 2001. Company executives say that Blue cardholders hang onto the card longer than some other versions and consumers use it more often than the other cards in their wallets.

"Everyone wanted a Blue card because it was sexy and neat to have in your wallet," says Nicholas Cooney, president of Versatile Card Technology Inc., the closely held firm that acquired the rights to the technology American Express used to create the card. Based in Downers Grove, Ill., VCT is hustling to develop sample designs that it can pitch to banks, retailers and direct-mail companies.

The company has manufactured dozens of unusual cards in the past several years. Some ideas, though, might have limited appeal. VCT makes a scratch-and-sniff model that smells like coffee, as well as about 90 other aromas. It is in discussions with a retailer for a perfume-scented card.

The race to develop card designs was apparent on a recent afternoon at a VCT plant in South Plainfield, N.J. In a series of locked rooms that can be opened only with a magnetic card, workers -- wearing pocket-free smocks as a security measure -- put the finishing touches on two big card orders from clients in a rush to develop innovative designs. About 100 security cameras recorded movements throughout the facility.

Both batches of cards were coated with a new type of plastic that can be used to create texture and depth, such as the feltlike feel of a tennis ball or the grooved seam of a football. The company is bound by confidentiality agreements with clients and wasn't permitted to identify the card issuers or other details about them.

"These cards are a piece of art to the customer," said Merrill Martin, VCT's chief operating officer, stroking a pile stacked in an office at the South Plainfield facility.

The newfangled cards can cost as much as 25% more to produce than traditional cards, depending on the size of the order, Mr. Martin says. The price can be even higher when there are more bells and whistles.

Companies are willing to pay more for production of the cards in the hopes that the unique designs lure customers who will use the cards often. Frequent use translates into more profits for the card issuers.

American Express is replacing its high-end Centurion plastic cards with hand-crafted versions made of titanium. The new cards weigh 0.53 ounce compared with 0.17 ounce for a typical plastic card, prompting company executives to describe the heft as providing "plunk factor" when tossed onto a table. American Express wouldn't disclose the cost of the titanium cards, but it isn't charging customers more for them. The Centurion card is offered to those who charge at least $250,000 a year.

Down the road, these unique cards may also have snazzy functions. Innovative Card Technologies, a closely held firm based in Los Angeles, has developed a card that displays a one-time numeric password similar to security tokens used by companies and banks. The card contains a chip that changes the numeric password with the touch of a button on the back. Alan Finkelstein, president, wants to build on that technology to create credit cards that can display the most-recent transaction processed.

Mr. Cooney of VCT says, "Our clients don't want to see us unless we have something new to offer. Pretty soon, there will be cards that can do everything but get up and walk away."

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Please note that any links directly to card product offers are provided for informational purposes only. Any descriptions within this post about an offer may not necessarily align with the offer to which these links connect.

20061107

Morgan Stanley & Visa settle dispute


Morgan Stanley and Visa International said they had agreed to settle a long-running dispute over business in Europe. Under terms of the agreement, Visa permitted Morgan Stanley to join its credit card operation in Europe and Morgan Stanley withdrew an antitrust complaint against Visa. The dispute arose in 2004, when Visa refused to permit Morgan Stanley to join the Visa credit card system because the bank is a competitor in the United States, where it operates the Discover card. Morgan Stanley subsequently filed an antitrust complaint with the European Union. Jonathan Todd, a spokesman for the European Union, said its investigation would continue even though Morgan Stanley had withdrawn its complaint.


From The New York Times


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Please note that any links directly to card product offers are provided for informational purposes only. Any descriptions within this post about an offer may not necessarily align with the offer to which these links connect.