Consumer Payment Card News

First Union Expands Secured Card Program

First Union (NYSE: FTU) is expanding its Secured MasterCard into six new markets today, making credit more available to those who wish to reestablish credit or access it for the first time. Introduced in North Carolina and Florida in late 1995, the credit building program is now being offered to customers throughout Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

The Secured MasterCard product differs from other credit card programs by allowing customers to set their own credit limits by opening an FDIC-insured First Union savings account equal to the requested credit line. Additional deposits to the savings balance simultaneously raise the credit card line of credit.

With a good payment history, the cardholder can receive periodic unsecured credit limit increases and ultimately may “graduate” to an unsecured First Union credit card.

“The First Union Secured MasterCard is designed for customers who want to establish credit for the first time or for those customers who want to regain access to a credit card and its benefits,” said David Benjamin, First Union vice president of New Product Development, Card Products Division.

“Customers have shown a tremendous interest in this type of card in our test markets. We want the Secured MasterCard to help us deliver a quality product to an entirely new group of First Union customers,” he said.

The First Union Secured MasterCard looks and works like any other First Union credit card and is accepted at more than 12 million merchant locations worldwide. Customers interested in the card can pick up an application in any First Union branch in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

Also, customers nationwide can request a Secured MasterCard application by calling First Union’s Direct Bank number, 1-800-413-7898.

Renaissance Bankcard Services, based in Portland, Oregon, has been retained by First Union for servicing the secured credit card portfolio. Secured MasterCard customers will have access to their account information 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Written and verbal communications are available in both English and Spanish for First Union Secured MasterCard customers.

On Jan. 1, First Union Corp. completed its previously announced merger with First Fidelity Bancorporation of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. First Union is the sixth- largest banking company in the U.S. based on assets of approximately $132 billion. The newly expanded First Union stretches 1,400 miles from North to South, covering the Eastern U.S. from Connecticut to Florida — a total of 12 states plus Washington, D.C.

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