First USA Inc. is dialing up a premium reward with the introduction of the Platinum Connect credit card.

This week the Dallas-based issuer began mailing out pre-approved applications for a combined platinum credit card and calling card.

Both Wilmington, Del.-based MBNA Corp. and First USA have been flooding the market with platinum cards since last year. Industry observers said the latest product might represent First USA's attempt to create segments within the platinum market.

First USA has traditionally competed on price. Now the company also hopes to differentiate its products through rewards.

First USA is giving cardholders a 10% cash-back reward on all long- distance calls.

Because Platinum Connect offers savings on telephone calls, it is "the best of the platinum products that are available," said George A. McCane, spokesman for First USA.

The long-distance service is being provided by Atlanta-based Premiere Communications. First USA said Premiere's rates can help consumers save up to 61% over AT&T and MCI.

But the potential discount may not be good enough for some consumers, said Jeffrey Baxter, principal of S.J. Baxter & Associates in Forest Hill, Md. He said consumers are accustomed to having separate calling cards in their wallets.

"No issuer yet has been able to make long-distance calling a compelling feature of the credit card," Mr. Baxter said. "It hasn't worked for AT&T."

The no-fee Platinum Connect also offers programmable speed dialing and conference calling. A portion of the credit card number will double as the calling card number, and cardholders will be able to access voice and fax mail through a designated "800" number.

A second card, Platinum Connect Plus, will offer additional features, like discounts on car rentals and hotel rooms.

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