AmEx Breaks Into CU Market

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PHOENIX - (11/25/04) -- Desert Schools FCU said this week itbecame the first credit union to offer American Express creditcards, following the recent court rulings forcing Visa andMasterCard to allow card issuers to issue competitors' cards. "Thishas been a while in the works but we kind of put in hold pendingwhat's been going on with the lawsuit," Jeff Meshey, vice presidentfor the $2.2 billion credit union, told The Credit Union JournalWednesday. The entry into the credit union market follows federalcourt rulings that exclusionary policies operated by Visa andMasterCard preventing issuers form offering AmEx and othercompetitors' cards is in violation of federal antitrust laws.Desert Schools FCU will issue the AmEx cards through MBNA, whichhad been managing its credit card business since buying the creditunion's portfolio in 2001. "This is another step in the evolutionof that relationship," said Meshey. The credit union begannotifying members of their new card option through a direct mailingsent out Wednesday. Unlike most AmEx cards, this one will offerrevolving credit and no annual fee. It will carry a 7.9% interestrate on balances and provide credit union members with access toAmEx's travel and points programs. The card will carry the DesertSchools FCU and AmEx logos on the front and MBNA logo and contactson the back. "The big thing is, it really helps us promote ourbrand," said Meshey.

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