Now that all the major airlines have found cobranding partners, Illinois-based Elan Financial Services, has landed a regional carrier - Midwest Express.

Elan is a subsidiary of Firstar Corp., Milwaukee.

Midwest Express offers only one class of service - business class, at prices competitive with other carriers' coach fares - and boasts of roomy seats, gourmet meals, free champagne, and freshly baked cookies.

The Midwest Express MasterCard will offer Midwest's 650,000 frequent fliers one mile for each $1 spent on general purchases. Two miles per $1 will be given for purchasing a Midwest ticket with the card through 1996, and a 1,000-mile bonus for first use of the standard card, or 2,500 miles for first use of the gold card.

Standard cards carry a $40 annual fee - lower than the $50 industry average. Gold and business cardholders must pay $65 a year.

The annual percentage rate starts and stays at 9.9% over prime, similar to most airline cards. The card will be marketed through direct mail and take-ones in bank branches as well as through the Midwest Airlines newsletter, in-flight magazines, ticket jackets, and ticket counters.

The Midwest Express card offers a free companion ticket to those who sign up before the end of 1995 and purchase a Midwest Express ticket with the card by March 31, 1996.

It takes 20,000 miles to earn a free ticket, or 10,000 on Skyway Airlines, its commuter partner. Fifteen thousand miles earns a free companion ticket on Midwest.

Patricia A. Wesner, president of Elan, said the two companies, which serve many of the same markets, have some customers in common, but the program will provide entree to about 500,000 new customers. The bank, with one million accounts and $600 million in outstandings, said it expects to attract at least 5% of those fliers in the first 18 months.

Stan Dale, editor of Mileage and Points, a Phoenix-based newsletter, said the double mileage for ticket purchases is "unique." He said the card would be an enhancement for existing customers, but would not induce others to switch.

Robert McKinley, president of RAM Research Corp., a Fredrick Maryland- based card tracking company, said the card is "competitive, more generous, and has lower redemption rates. If I was flying Midwest I'd probably sign up for it.

Headquartered in Milwaukee, Midwest serves 22 destinations in the United States and Canada from its Milwaukee and Omaha hubs, including Chicago, New York, Atlanta, and Dallas.

Skyway serves 27 Midwest and Great Lakes cities, providing connections to Midwest.

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