Consumer Payment Card News

Target Market

If your household income is more than $125,000 per year, you might want to consider a bigger mailbox. Affluent Americans will be targeted heavily over the next year for payment cards as American Express teams up with the nation’s third largest VISA and MasterCard issuer. MBNA expects to roll-out some new cards within the next few weeks that will carry the American Express logo instead of VISA or MasterCard. MBNA says it will initially target its core high-spending affinity card members such as doctors and lawyers. But you can bet the new MBNA AmEx card will be met and matched by offers from VISA and MasterCard and their issuers. VISA is currently running a major ad campaign to promote its high-end “VISA Signature” card and has signed up many new banks to issue the card next year. “VISA Signature” is a hybrid credit card/charge card. Cardholders receive a credit line but can charge well above the credit line if they have the capacity to pay-off the difference each billing cycle. Like AmEx cards, “VISA Signature” is loaded with card benefits such as dining privileges, hotel upgrades, and concierge services. Meanwhile, Citibank, the nation’s second largest issuer, is in the process of converting its Diners Club card in the USA and Canada to a MasterCard. The Diners Club “Club Rewards” program has been voted “Best Card Program” for a seven consecutive years, beating the American Express reward programs hands down. With Diners Club to be accepted in as many places as MasterCard, plus offering a 60-day grace period for purchases, the card will be a formidable contender in the affluent U.S. market. It is unlikely this ramped up competition will bring lower prices to affluent consumers but it will greatly increase the value of card perks.

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