First Hawaiian Bank hopes to boost revenues with a credit card offering discounts to people who travel regularly to Hawaii.
"We hope to encourage more frequent visits to Hawaii by making it more affordable to go there," said Edward Y.W. Pei, senior vice president of the bank's electronic banking division and the developer of the new card.
Holders of the Hawaii Advantage Visa card will be eligible for discounts on vacation packages sold by Hawaii Classic, a tour operator, as well as discounts at participating restaurants, golf courses, and merchants . The 45 or so restaurants in the program are part of a frequent-dining club, called Quisine.
Mr. Pei said the bank is negotiating with major airlines as well.
Customers earn certificates equal to 1% of their spending on the card. The certificates can be redeemed at any time for Hawaii Classic tours, which include airfare, hotels, and car rentals.
Other merchants with which the bank has relationships will offer discounts of 20% to 45% for purchases made with Hawaii Advantage cards, First Hawaiian said.
Hawaii Advantage appears to be the first credit card that promotes tourism in a specific state, said a Visa spokeswoman. A handful of cards are linked to towns, but these are aimed at residents. Only one other card, the Bermuda Club Visa card issued by MBNA, promotes a specific travel destination.
Tourism in Hawaii has been declining for four years, said Mr. Pei. About 60% of the state's tourists are from California, which has suffered a deep recession.
First Hawaiian, with 250,000 credit cards, hopes to beef up its card portfolio, which also includes the Aloha Airlines frequent-flier card, introduced in 1994.
Hawaii Advantage represents the first time the bank is marketing a card product to people outside its home turf.
In addition to a national direct mail campaign, and media advertising, First Hawaiian plans to promote the card through its dealer center in Costa Mesa, Calif., which offers auto loans to Californians. First Hawaiian plans to leverage its relationship with 34 banks it recently acquired in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho to help market the cards. The banks, now called Pacific One, are subsidiaries of First Hawaiian.
First Hawaiian will also enlist travel agents to help sell the card to their customers.
Hawaii Advantage comes with a $25 annual fee, waived in the first year. Cardholders can avoid subsequent annual fees by charging at least $2,500 annually. The interest rate for standard cards is based on the prime rate plus 7.5% and the prime rate plus 6.5% for gold cardholders.
Classic cardholders can earn up to $1,000 annually in certificates and gold cardholders can earn an unlimited amount of certificates.
First Hawaii is touting free banking services such as check cashing and automated teller machine use during a cardholder's visit to Hawaii.
The cards will be available within a few weeks.