Consumer Payment Card News

Marbles Vs. Egg

Two U.S. based card issuers have started a bloody Internet card war for the Brits. It all comes down to marbles versus egg. Household International’s U.K. bank, HFC Bank, announced this week it will unveil an Internet-based credit card in about two weeks. The new card, to be called ‘Marbles’, is the second Internet-based card to be launched in the U.K. Last month Prudential Corp. Plc introduced the ‘Egg’ credit card through its British Internet bank under the same name. Both cards will accept applications online and will deliver card statements via the Internet. However the HFC ‘Marbles’ card will also offer support and accept applications over the telephone. Prudential’s ‘Egg’ credit card is exclusively an online card product. ‘Marbles’ is offering a six-month 5.9% intro rate followed by a 14.9% APR. The ‘Egg’ card currently offers a six-month 4.5% intro rate followed by a rate as low as 9.9%. ‘Egg’ also offers up to a 2% rebate for online purchases. HFC will reportedly spend more than US$16 million to promote the ‘Marbles’ product. The card will be extensively promoted over Britian’s largest internet service provider, Freeserve Plc. HFC has signed a marketing agreement with Freeserve to pay US$8 million over five years plus a fee for each new account acquired and a portion of the interchange fee. But there is another twist to the story use of the “marbles” name. Believe it or not, another U.K. firm not only trades under the ‘Marbles’ name but also owns the domain name HFC is using the domain name The ‘Marbles’ company is a tiny public relations firm in London which has traded under the name for eight years and has owned the marbles web site for three years. HFC has apparently secured trademark rights to “marbles” and “marbles card”. The ‘Marbles’ company said this week it does not intend to change its name or web site but regrets the confusion created for consumers who come to the wrong web site. HFC’s main competitor for the new “marbles” credit card is the “egg” VISA issued by Prudential Corp. Plc. Prudential owns The egg card has been a smash in the U.K. since its launch three weeks ago.

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