JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- American Telephone and Telegraph Co. said its Universal credit card has passed the 10-million-account milestone.

AT&T said its 15 million total cards, with $5.3 billion in receivables, give it "clear claim to the No. 2 position in the bank credit card industry."

Universal MasterCard and Visa cards are issued by a unit of Synovus Financial Corp. Columbus, Ga.

The telecommunications company also announced a half-point drop in its annual interest rate on charter members' outstanding balances, to 14.9%, effective Oct. 1. The rate has been cut five times since the card was launched in 1990.

The 6.5 million cardholders who signed up in the program's second year will pay 15.9%.

"I don't understand why more than 60 million Americans continue to give their hard-earned dollars to companies charging anywhere from 16% to . . . as much as 21%," said Paul Kahn, president of AT&T Universal Card Services.

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