Starting next March, all U.S. consumers who hold VISA cards will automatically receive “Auto Rental Insurance” coverage, a benefit currently available only on “Gold” and “Platinum” VISA cards. Therefore, an additional 110 million VISA cardholders, and more than 240 million in total, will benefit from the VISA-provided insurance coverage in 2004. The change is part of VISA’s decision to merge its “Classic,” “Gold,” and “Platinum” cards into one consumer credit card platform governed by one set of operating rules. The move will give VISA issuers complete power over how to jazz up their VISA credit card offerings. The merger of the products will also give issuers the advantage of not having to change card numbers, or BINs, whenever upgrading a customer’s card. VISA will continue to offer its issuers a menu of 16 managed enhancements. The differences between the various VISA consumer card products have become more blurred over the past three years as some sub-prime issuers, such as Capital One, now offer “Platinum” cards with $300 credit lines. During the 1990s, “Gold” and “Platinum” VISA cards generally carried a minimum credit line requirement of $5,000. As a result, the penetration of “Platinum” cards in the USA has now reached 62 million households, nearly 60% of all households. MBNA and First USA pioneered the “Platinum” cards among VISA and MasterCard issuers in 1996.