After 18 months of searching for a new partner, the largest operator of membership warehouse clubs in the Northeast has signed a deal for a co-branded MasterCard. BJ’s Wholesale Club and First USA will launch the new MasterCard in June, targeting more than six million BJ’s club members. In 1995, BJ’s teamed up with Beneficial National Bank to issue a co-branded MasterCard. However, after opening 260,000 accounts, the co-branded program began to unravel in September 1997 when BNB filed suit to end the relationship. BJ’s counter-sued, alleging breach of contract, and sought a temporary restraining order to prevent BNB from canceling 12,000 BJ’s MasterCard accounts. Beneficial said the co-branded program was unprofitable and sought to cancel the accounts of cardholders who consistently paid off their balances in full. The parties quickly settled and the program eventually became just a Beneficial card. The BNB/BJ’s contract expired in August 2000. The new MasterCard deal with First USA will offer qualified BJ’s club members the opportunity earn up to 1.5% rewards via “BJ’s Bucks” depending on spending habits and purchases both in and out of the club. The no annual fee card will carry an 6-month 2.9% APR, followed by a variable rate, currently at 13.49%. BJ’s is the only wholesale club that accepts VISA and MasterCard. BJ’s and Sam’s Clubs accept Discover. BJ’s has 131 club stores in 16 eastern states.