As other banks rein in their cobranding programs, Chase Manhattan Corp. is adding benefits to its Shell MasterCard.

Starting June 1, Chase and Shell will eliminate the $70 cap on rebates customers can get by using the card, and will increase the discount on Shell gas station purchases from 3% to 5%.

The rebate for other purchases will be lowered, however, from 2% to 1%.

Chase-Shell is the largest of the gasoline cobranding programs, but its rewards have been more conservative than some competitors', said W. Christopher Staab, an associate with Auriemma Consulting Group, Westbury, N.Y.

Of the 10 other cobranded gas cards-five of them issued by Associates National Bank of Delaware-half do not have a rebate cap.

Those that do, like the British Petroleum card issued by Banc One Corp. and the Gulf card issued by Fleet Financial Group, allow rebates to go as high as $300 and $350, respectively, Mr. Staab said.

Nevertheless, Chase said Shell cardholders had earned over $300 million in rebates since the program was launched five years ago.

There are 2.7 million Shell cards in force, according to RAM Research Corp., Frederick, Md.

Robert B. McKinley, president of RAM, said the Chase-Shell partnership is strong because both companies are fully committed.

"So many of these relationships have fallen apart recently," he said.

Chase is "in cobranding for the long haul. Other issuers got into it as a defensive measure."

Chase also offers co-branded cards with Wal-Mart Stores, Continental Airlines, Toys 'R' Us, and Bell Atlantic.

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