Banco Popular of Puerto Rico is issuing a cobranded card to commonwealth residents.

The Xtra/Pueblo Visa card will give islanders discounts on groceries as well as rebates on general purchases.

For every $500 spent, the customer will automatically receive a $10 certificate for shopping at any Pueblo or Xtra discount supermarket. Customers will also receive a free movie rental certificate.

Marta Ortiz, product and business development director for Banco Popular, said Pueblo is the leader among supermarkets in the commonwealth.

"Pueblo and Popular are a strong combination," she said.

Ms. Ortiz said that although Banco Popular is Puerto Rico's largest bank, with 174,000 Visa and MasterCard accounts and $149 million of outstandings, it still wants to offer added value to customers to stave off competition.

Citibank offers the American Airlines' Advantage Card to Puerto Ricans, but the cards are issued from South Dakota.

Banco Popular is considering issuing cobranded cards with leaders of other industries on the island, said Ms. Ortiz.

Consumers who apply for the Xtra/Pueblo Visa before Oct. 31 will receive a 9.95% introductory interest rate, followed by a 16.95% fixed rate after six months. After one year the card carries a $24 annual fee. Upon approval, customers will receive a $5 certificate for grocery purchases plus a free movie rental certificate.

Ms. Ortiz said the bank hopes to attract 15,000 to 25,000 cardholders by the end of the year, and double that number by the end of next year.

The program will eventually be expanded to the Virgin Islands and Florida, she said.

Promotion begins today with preapproved mailings, radio and newspaper advertisements, bus shelter signs, danglers for stores, and a mobile unit traveling from store to store to issue cards within an hour.

"Puerto Rico has been an overlooked market," said Michele Turkel, of Spectrum International Consulting Corp., Scarsdale, N.Y., a consultant who worked on the deal. "Banks down there like Banco Popular have a terrific opportunity."

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