Consumer Payment Card News


While the legal fight between American Express, First USA and VISA continues over the use of the term Platinum for card products, the competitive war is clearly being won by MBNA America and First USA. According to a study released this morning by Atlanta-based Brittain Associates, Inc. the MBNA America Platinum Plus and the First USA Platinum cards account for about 80% of all platinum card accounts issued to about two million U.S. households. The other 20% is divided up among American Express, First National Bank of Omaha and Patelco Credit Union. The Brittain study also shows that consumers see platinum cards as a marginal step up from gold bankcards, offering somewhat higher credit limits but not charging an annual fee. The platinum product differentiation between the high-value American Express product and bank credit card versions has apparently not been blurred.

With more than 80% of the platinum bankcard market share between them, First USA and MBNA clearly dominate this premium bankcard niche. These share data emerge from a just published national platium card study conducted by Atlanta research firm, Brittian Associates.

Including the American Express Platinum Card plus those issued by First USA, MBNA, First National Bank of Omaha and Patelco, a credit union on the west coast, the study identified nearly two million U.S. households who claim to own a credit or charge card distinctly marketed as a platinum premium card.

“Given the demographic profiles of platinum card owners, American Express probably does not have much to fear from the platinum bankcard products,” says Bruce Brittian, president of Brittian Associates. “The platinum bankcards are marketed to a distinctly different consumer segment than are the Platinum American Express cards.”

The data strongly suggest that platinum bankcards are seen as a marginal step up from gold bankcards by consumers who wnat a somewhat higher credit limit but who do not want to pay an annuaal fee. The Platinum American Express Card has a $300 annual fee.

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