First Union National Bank of Charlotte, N.C., said it would begin to put the Interlink debit logo on its ATM cards next month, making it the first bank to launch Interlink outside of the network's five-state western region.

The unit of First Union Corp. plans to convert all its 1.7 million automated teller machine cards into Interlink cards.

First Union has one of the 10 largest ATM card bases in the country.

The cards will be usable for purchases at Interlink-accepting merchants, now numbering 6,000 and primarily in the West, where Interlink has been up and running for seven years. Interlink is going national after its purchase last year by Visa U.S.A.

Interlink officials see the addition of a nonwestern bank as a milestone.

"We plan to make many more similar announcements over the next six to 12 months," said Wesley C. Talman, Interlink's president and chief executive officer.

About 347 financial institutions are committed to issuing Interlink cards, Visa said.

A Visa spokeswoman said Interlink's merchant network was expected to grow fivefold over the next three years as it recruits retailers outside of California and the West.

MasterCard International's competing system, Maestro, handled its first national transaction last month. More than 250 U.S. banks said they would join the Maestro network.

Better Business Bureaus Offer A Booklet to Credit Card Users

The Council of Better Business Bureaus has published a revised booklet on consumer credit that is unlikely to be promoted by credit-card issuers.

A promotional flier for the free 16-page publication, titled "Tips on ... Consumer Credit," highlights five ways to cut credit costs. Here are excerpts:

* Avoid holding more cards than you need.

* Before selecting a card because of its extra service features, consider whether you actually will need, or use, those services, and take into account any additional fees.

* Compare the discount prices of merchandise available through some discount catalogue programs with the prices you might find in stores or retail catalogues.

* Before accepting an affinity card, compare the credit terms offered with those of other card issuers, and consider the alternative of simply making a donation to a cause.

The council, based in Washington, D.C., is a private business-sponsored organization.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.