Advanta Corp. has broadened its relationship with telecommunications and entertainment giant Comcast Corp. to offer a second cobranded credit card.
A year ago the Spring House, Pa.-based issuer dialed into the cellular arm of Comcast, issuing a Visa card that offered discounts for phone time.
On Monday, Advanta announced the launch of the second no-fee cobranded card, aimed at Philadelphia cable customers of Comcast. Ultimately, the No. 8 issuer said it wants to expand the marketing to all of Comcast's 4.3 million cable customers nationwide.
Trying to grab a new block of customers by offering a no-fee, teaser rate card might seem risky for Advanta, which has said it expects to report a loss of $20 million for the first quarter because of rising chargeoffs.
But Geff Rapp product manager for Advanta, said this is the next step in a plan to incorporate all of Comcast's business units-cellular, cable, and long distance-into a rewards program.
Both cards carry the name Comcast Rewards Visa, but they offer a different set of benefits. Comcast said it would not market the cable card to cellular customers or vice versa at this time, but both cards would eventually merge, said spokeswoman Marlene Petter.
The new Comcast Rewards Visa has an introductory rate of 5.9% for six months. The rate then climbs to 11.64% plus London interbank offered rate; that works out to 17.23%.
Cardholders can earn 1 point for each dollar of purchases or balances transferred. Cable bills paid on time also earn 1 point per dollar, and bills paid using the Comcast Rewards Visa earn double points.
As a sign-on bonus, cardholders receive 500 points and either three pay- per-view coupons or a $20 QVC gift certificate.
Points are redeemable for a variety of entertainment benefits including discounts at restaurants in the Philadelphia area; box seats at Philadelphia Flyers, Philadelphia 76ers, and Phillies home games; tickets to the New Jersey State Aquarium; Sony audio merchandise; credits for Comcast cable; free Comcast movies; free premium channel services; and Samsonite luggage.
In addition to its telecommunications units, Comcast owns the Flyers and the 76ers and is a principal owner of the electronic retailer QVC.
Because several of the benefits are related to Comcast's business operations, "the perceived value of this program to consumers is higher than the cost," said Steven J. Smith, president, S.J. Smith and Associates, Scarsdale, N.Y.
"Comcast's corporate ties allow them to offer their customers access to behind-the-scene events, special studio tours, or awards-opportunities that may not be available to the average person," said Mr. Rapp.
Cardholders can also redeem points for tickets to the Super Bowl, the MTV Music Awards, or the Preakness, a horse racing event in the Triple Crown series.
There are over 150 rewards associated with both programs, but "Advanta needs to identify a way to communicate all these benefits to the consumers to make the programs most effective," said Mr. Smith.
Advanta is traditionally known as an issuer of low-rate, no-fee cards, but its cobranding efforts haven't matched the volume of other credit card specialists like MBNA and First USA.
Advanta's only cobranded cards are the two issued for Comcast, but industry observers maintain the rewards aspect of those deals will appeal to consumers.
"Consumers are points junkies, and will redeem points for things that they would not probably purchase otherwise," said James L. Accomando, president, Accomando Consulting Inc., Fairfield, Conn.
"Advanta has a cheaper and more effective opportunity to cross-sell its products to a household 12 times a year with statement inserts," he added