Two Ohio banks have announced cobranded cards, each in its own way furthering established trends and giving Visa a boost as it tries to match Master-Card's cobranding successes.

Provident Bank of Cincinnati joined with Thriftway Food-Drug to introduce the first grocery-connected credit card in the Cincinnati area.

Banc One and BP

Meanwhile, Banc One Corp. of Columbus announced an agreement to offer a card with BP Oil, the Cleveland-based U.S. subsidiary of British Petroleum Co.

The BP-Banc One Visa card is still in development; no details of the program were disclosed.

BP's senior vice president of retail marketing, Robert K. Purvis, said hooking up with "a premier card marketing company based in Ohio" was sure to be a winning formula. The $83 billion-asset bank, after working on the BP product several months, gave no indication when it would come to market.

Oil companies have become active cobranders. Chemical Bank's Shell MasterCard was one of the most successful such launchings last year. Two months ago, Amoco Corp. started a Visa program with Associates National Bank, a Ford Motor Co. affiliate.

Ginny Sinko, a BP spokeswoman, said the company would continue its proprietary card program, with 4 million cardholders nationwide.

The Visa card will be usable worldwide; the proprietary card is accepted only at the 7,500 BP stations in the United States.

The Thriftway general-purpose Visa, promoted since June 19, doubles as a frequent-shopper promotion. It thus resembles a Banc One product, the Vision Value Club eard, which is tied in with a shopper-loyalty program that many supermarkets subscribe to through Advanced Promotion Technologies of Pompano Beach, Fla.

Thriftway customers get annual rebates of up to $500 for use at Thriftway stores. The rebates accrue at the rate of 1% for $500 to $2,500 in annual card purchases and 2% for purchases over $2,500. Thriftway will also put bonus coupons in monthly billing statements.

Provident Bank, a subsidiary of $4.7 billion-asset Provident Bancorp, charges no annual fee and has a special introductory interest rate of 9.99%, in effect through Dec. 31.

In addition, consumers can get discounts on purchases through Prestige Travel.


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