American Express Co. has followed MasterCard and Visa to Canada, hoping to wrest market share from bank card issuers there.

To do so, it is importing a popular bank card marketing strategy from the United States - offering no-fee, low-introductory-rate cards to Canadian consumers.

American Express credit cards come with a 9.9% introductory rate for six months. The New York-based card giant said it is the first issuer to offer such a product in Canada.

Card members the company considers in good standing will get a 13.95% permanent rate; a 17.95% rate will apply to others.

With charge card products, American Express said it has about 10% of the $55 billion (Canadian) market, which includes 58 million cards of all types. By adding a revolving-balance card, it hopes to capture 15% of the market, said an American Express spokeswoman in the Toronto office.

American Express has previously offered gold, corporate, platinum, and Optima cards in Canada. The Optima card was offered only to holders of charge cards. Its credit cards will be offered to noncharge card customers.

American Express launched a revolving credit card in the United Kingdom last year.

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