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First USA and Consolidated Cigar Corp. teamed up yesterday to roll out three new platinum cards targeted at the cigar aficionado. The ‘Montecristo’, ‘H. Upmann’ and ‘Cigar Lover’s’ Platinum VISA cards will carry First USA’s flagship pricing: no annual fee; 5.9% intro rate and 13.99% long-term rate. New cardholders will receive a free pack of premium handmade cigars from the Montecristo, U. Upmann and Don Diego brand shortly after the initial card use. Other incentives include discounts on premium cigar accessories from companies such as Budd Leather, Prometheus and Bollman Hat. Consolidated has about a 25% share of the U.S. cigar market.

Consolidated Cigar Corporation and First USA announced Tuesday they are giving cigar lovers a new way to show the world their appreciation for one of life’s simple pleasures — the Montecristo, H. Upmann and Cigar Lover’s Platinum Visa cards.

Consolidated Cigar Corporation is the leading cigar producer and distributor in the U.S., with sales of nearly one billion cigars a year and roughly 25 percent of the domestic market. In 1996, roughly 275 million premium cigars were consumed in the U.S., up 67 percent from 1995.

“The power of the cigar is amazing; celebration, success and achievement are all symbolized and commemorated by the cigar,” said Richard DiMeola, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Consolidated Cigar Corporation. “We believe that the Cigar Platinum Visa cards, featuring our famous brands, truly enhance the cigar experience by allowing the cigar aficionado to make a statement of identity every time they use the card.”

Shortly after new Cardmembers use the card for the first time, they will receive a free pack of premium handmade cigars from one of the world’s premium cigar brands including: Montecristo, H. Upmann and Don Diego. Cardmembers will also be able to purchase premium cigar accessories, including humidors, cutters and carrying cases at substantial savings below retail from such leading companies as Budd Leather, Prometheus and Bollman Hat.

“Cigar smoking has assumed a stylish mystique over the years,” said James W. Stewart, III, executive vice president, partnership marketing, First USA. “Whether you are new to cigar smoking or a long-time connoisseur, the Cigar Platinum Visa card program, with its unique combination of designs and benefits, is a personal expression of good taste.”

Cardmembers can choose from three unique designs. The Montecristo and H. Upmann designs each feature their name brand and an enticing lit cigar. The Cigar Lover’s design features a variety of quality handmade cigars.

The cards feature a 5.9% introductory APR for five months followed by a low 13.99% APR thereafter; a free money-saving balance transfer feature; and credit line up to $100,000.

Applications for the Cigar Platinum Visa cards will be provided through direct mail. Interested persons can also apply via a toll-free number (800/451-2491).

Consolidated Cigar Holdings Inc. makes and distributes cigars and related products through Consolidated Cigar Corporation, the largest manufacturer and marketer of cigars in the United States. The Company was also the largest manufacturer and marketer of premium cigars and natural-wrapped mass-market cigars in the United States for 1996, the fastest growing segments of the cigar industry.

First USA (, an affiliate of BANC ONE CORPORATION, is a financial services company specializing in the credit card business and is among the largest providers of Visa, MasterCard and private label credit cards in the nation. First USA has approximately 40.4 million credit cards issued and $38.9 billion in total loans outstanding.

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