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First USA also announced a new affinity program yesterday with an alliance with the largest symphony orchestras in the country. The new ‘TOPS Symphony Series VISA Card’ will produce support revenue for a entire range of orchestral offerings including local urban education, community outreach programs and core artistic initiatives. TOPS members include major symphony orchestras in the 25 largest U.S. markets with each participating symphony logo appearing on the First USA-issued cards. The no-fee card, with a 5.9% 5-month intro/15.9% fixed long-term rate, will be offered at performances and via a toll free number.

FULL STORY:

The Orchestra PartnerShip (“TOPS”), a first-of-its-kind performing arts alliance involving the largest symphony orchestras in the country, announced its inaugural sponsorship agreement today, launching the “TOPS” Symphony Series Visa card.

Proceeds from the multi-year sponsorship will benefit many of the nation’s leading orchestras. The card is issued by First USA, one of the nation’s leading credit card providers.

Participating orchestras are: the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, New World Symphony (Miami), Oregon (Portland) Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and the San Francisco Symphony.

The “TOPS” Symphony Series Visa card will provide significant funding for the entire range of orchestral offerings, which include local urban education and community outreach programs, as well as core artistic initiatives. The sponsorship will also support orchestra touring and charitable contribution efforts.

“This agreement signals a new era in the marketing of the orchestral community,” said Paul W. Hogle, president of “TOPS.” “It demonstrates that when our resources are professionally organized nationwide, we can be very competitive in the event marketing business. The “TOPS” Symphony Series Visa card will provide an important investment in our orchestras’ extensive programming.”

Applications for the no-annual-fee cards, which feature the name and logo of one of the participating “TOPS” orchestras, will be available at orchestra performances. Applications will also be mailed to orchestra enthusiasts and are available via a toll-free number (800/347-7887).

“First USA is proud to support the arts through our new relationship with The Orchestra PartnerShip,” said James W. Stewart III, executive vice president partnership marketing, First USA. “We expect tremendous interest in the card because the loyal orchestra attendees nationwide are committed to the orchestras’ continued success.”

“Orchestra enthusiasts will be delighted with the First USA “TOPS” Visa card,” said Fran Schall, executive vice president, Visa U.S.A. “Cardholders will benefit by knowing that every purchase they make helps benefit the orchestras they support.”

The “TOPS” Visa card features a 5.9% introductory interest rate for five months, followed by a competitive 15.9% fixed APR thereafter; a credit line up to $100,000; a money-saving balance-transfer option; and 24-hour, toll-free customer service support. Cardmembers will also have the opportunity to participate in First USA’s Value Miles(SM) travel program. Members who enroll in the program earn Value Miles(SM) redeemable for free travel for every dollar they spend using their First USA credit cards.

“TOPS,” incorporating a model familiar to the sports industry, combines the marketing might of the largest orchestras in the country, and for the first time offers it in a one-stop-shop format to select corporate partners. “TOPS” members include major symphony orchestra in the 25 largest U.S. markets playing in the finest performance halls in the U.S.

First USA (http://www.firstusa.com)

is a financial services company specializing in the credit card business and is among the largest providers of Visa and MasterCard services in the nation. First USA had approximately 16.3 million credit cards issued and $23.2 billion in total loans outstanding at March 31, 1997. First USA participates in the payment processing business through its 57% interest in First USA Paymentech Inc. On Jan. 20, 1997, First USA and BANC ONE CORPORATION jointly announced that an agreement had been reached for First USA to merge with BANC ONE, subject to satisfaction of certain conditions, including approval by First USA and BANC ONE shareholders and regulatory approval.

Visa is the world’s largest consumer payment system. It plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its 20,700 member financial institutions, their cardholders, and the global economy. Visa’s 561 million cards are accepted at 13 million locations worldwide. The Visa Global ATM Network consists of more than 323,000 ATMs in 109 countries. For more information on Visa, visit Visa Expo at http://www.visa.com.

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