Consumer Payment Card News

AmEx Blue Card Arrives

The American Express ‘Blue’ smart credit card hit the USA today. Following the successful introduction of ‘Blue’ credit cards in other countries, AmEx has unveiled a special ‘Blue’ card for the USA which contains both a magnetic stripe and a IC chip. AmEx says the USA version will also evolve with many new features and services. At launch, this new credit card will offer

* Introductory interest rate of 0 percent for the first six months and an ongoing fixed rate as low as 9.99 percent for revolving balances as long as the customer is in good standing

* No annual fee

* A web site at, where customers can pay bills online; download information from Quicken or Microsoft Money; take advantage of online financial tools to calculate net worth, cash flow and retirement goals; and review a variety of entertainment content including upcoming concerts and information on artists

A menu of relevant shopping services including

* Fraud Protection Guarantee — protects cardholders from any unauthorized charges made online with their Card;

* Return Protection — protects cardholders’ online and offline purchases against merchant no-return policies, up to 90 days from the date of purchase;

* Purchase Protection Plan — protects covered items against accidental damage and theft for 90 days from the date of purchase, up to $1,000 per occurrence, in excess of other applicable insurance; and

* Best Value Guarantee — ensures the lowest price available on covered items.

While Blue from American Express has a traditional magnetic stripe that can be read at point-of-sale terminals when shopping in the physical world, there are also features that will add convenience and more security when shopping online. First, for those cardholders who want to make online shopping easier, the company will be offering for free, American Express Online Wallet. Cardholders enter their purchase information (such as name, card account number and shipping address) into the wallet. When the customer is ready to make an online purchase, all he/she has to do is open the wallet and click on the “complete purchase” button to automatically fill in the merchant’s purchase form. Blue cardholders will be able to register for the American Express Online Wallet at in November.

Second, for those cardholders looking for added online security, Blue from American Express has a “smart” chip. Using a smart card reader, which is available for free* from American Express, and connects to the user’s PC, cardholders can more securely access their American Express Online Wallet when making purchases online. The chip stores a unique digital certificate that acts much like a key. When the card is inserted into the smart card reader and the cardholder enters his/her PIN number, the certificate is read and the cardholder can “unlock” the wallet. This added level of security helps prevent unauthorized access to the wallet.

To kick-off the promotion of the new ‘Blue’ card AmEx is holding a concert in Central Park next week. The September 14th free concert, with Sheryl Crow headlining will be called “Central Park in Blue”. While no one without a ticket will be admitted, the concert is free. It will also be televised on the web by Fox. This will be the first of five concerts throughout the rest of the year promoting the new ‘Blue’ card. About 25,000 tickets will be distributed in the five boroughs of New York City by “The Blue Crew”.

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