Consumer Payment Card News

Advanta Alive & Kickin

Despite the pounding Advanta took on Wall Street last week in the wake of a projected first quarter loss, the card issuer has not closed the door for new accounts. Yesterday the card specialist announced it is expanding its ‘Comcast Rewards VISA Card’ to Comcast’s 300,000 cable customers in the Philadelphia area. The card was first launched April 4, 1996 and was limited to Comcast Cellular customers. In mid-October Advanta beefed up the cobranded program with more merchant participation including incentives for 76ers and Flyers games. Yesterday’s announcement expands the program further by giving cable customers points for paying their cable bills on time and double points if they pay their cable bills with the ‘Comcast VISA’. Advanta indicated the program may be offered nationally to Comcast’s 4.3 million customers if the Philadelphia program is successful. The program’s pricing is no annual fee with a six month 5.9% teaser rate. The announcement flies in the face of Advanta’s latest battle plan which calls for shifting away from no-fee and low-rate cards.

FULL STORY:

Comcast Cable Communications (NASDAQ:CMCSA;CMCSK), the nation’s fourth largest cable company, and Advanta Corp. (NASDAQ:ADVNB;ADVNA), the country’s eighth largest credit card issuer, teamed up to introduce Monday the new Comcast Rewards Visa(R) Card.

The new Visa Gold and Classic cards issued by Advanta National Bank USA will initially be introduced to Comcast’s 300,000 cable customers in the Philadelphia area. Based on the success of the program in this region, card issuance could be expanded to Comcast’s 4.3 million customers nationwide.

“As a major communications company, Comcast has exclusive connections throughout the entertainment industry,” said Jon Gorchow, vice president, marketing and sales, Comcast Cable Communications. “Now, our customers will be able to benefit from those connections through many of the rewards offered in this program.”

The Comcast Rewards Card, which enables cardholders to pay their cable charges with added convenience, will allow customers to earn points in several ways:

— For all credit card purchases and balance transfers they make;

— Every time they pay their cable bill on time, regardless of the payment method;

— When they pay their cable bill via the Comcast Rewards Card (double points);

— By making travel plans through Rosenbluth Vacations.

“The Comcast Rewards Visa card is one more effort by Advanta to introduce our credit card expertise to a whole new industry. With this new card, customers will not only enjoy the convenience of Visa, the world’s largest consumer payment system with more than 13 million acceptance locations globally, but they can also reap diverse rewards that are not available anywhere else. It is this kind of unique value that we strive to deliver to our cardholders and that drives our selectivity in choosing co-branding partners,” said James Allhusen, president of Advanta’s credit card unit.

The program is unique in that many of the rewards can be redeemed in the Philadelphia area. Options include:

— Restaurants ranging from Bertucci’s, Boston Market and The Olive Garden to Sonoma, Susanna Foo and the Striped Bass;

— Box seats at Flyers, Sixers and Phillies home games, tickets to Kixx, Wings or Phantoms home games, tickets to the Franklin Institute, Walnut Street Theater or the New Jersey State Aquarium;

— Sony gifts ranging from a cassette tape or CD to a Hi-Fi Stereo VCR or a Sony Walkman(R) TV/AM/FM Stereo Cassette Player;

— Authentic Philadelphia Flyers or Philadelphia 76ers merchandise and jerseys;

— Rosenbluth Vacation certificates and Samsonite(R) luggage, Black & Decker(R) appliances, Igloo(R) coolers;

— A range of communications packages that include Comcast Cable credit, free Comcast Home Theater movies, free premium channel services, Comcast Metrophone air time and gift certificates to retail outlets such as the Warner Bros. Studio Store.

Points can also be redeemed for special offers called Opportunity Rewards(SM) that could include tickets to the Super Bowl, the MTV Music Awards or the Preakness. Each customer will receive a sign-on bonus of 500 points and either three pay-per-view coupons or a $20 QVC gift certificate. Points can be redeemed at any time and remain valid as long as cardholders remain Comcast customers.

“We are constantly looking for innovative ways to bring added value to our customers,” said Gorchow. “This program will allow our customers to choose from a variety of valuable rewards without changing their current purchasing habits.”

The new card, with a low 5.9 percent introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers, provides all of the benefits and conveniences of a Visa Card, including no annual fee.

“Comcast customers will be delighted with the benefits they receive from the Comcast Rewards Visa Card,” said Fran Schall, executive vice president, Visa U.S.A. “We are pleased to have been selected to participate in this innovative program along with Advanta.”

Comcast Corp. is principally engaged in the development, management and operation of wired telecommunications including cable televisions and telephone services, wireless telecommunications including cellular, personal communication services and direct-to-home satellite television; and content through principal ownership of QVC, the world’s premier electronic retailer, through C3 (Comcast Content and Communications), through majority ownership of Comcast Spectacor and through other programming investments.

The company’s consolidated and affiliated operations serve over 10 million customers worldwide.

With nearly six million customers, over $19 billion in managed assets and 3,500 employees, Advanta is a consumer financial services enterprise that proudly serves consumers and small businesses through high-quality, innovative offerings of credit cards, mortgages, leases, insurance and deposit products.

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