General Electric Co.'s GE Money is trying to help Fender Musical Instruments Corp. crank up sales of its iconic guitars with a private-label credit card.
Cardholders may use the GE Money Music card at 3,500 Fender dealerships nationwide, the companies said last week. GE Money's sales finance unit in Kettering, Ohio, runs the card program. As part of the multiyear agreement, Fender retailers also may use GE Money's Business Center, an online financial management service.
Brian Riley, the research director for bank cards at TowerGroup Inc., a research and advisory firm in Needham, Mass., called the announcement "refreshing," considering that private-label card issuance had "come to a halt in 2009."
"It is exciting to see that the Fender card is the first product launched since" the most important provisions of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure took effect last month, Riley said. "It is an indication that GE wants to be back in the card business." (GE, which put its private-label portfolio up for sale in December 2007, gave up its search for a buyer in September 2008.)
GE Money was the 10th-largest credit card issuer, with $12 billion in managed receivables, at Sept. 30. Fender, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., makes the Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars played by Eric Clapton and Bruce Springsteen, respectively.