First Premier Bank wants to be the first on the bus.
The Sioux Falls, S.D.-based company is test marketing a secured Greyhound MasterCard in Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, and New York.
Credit card partnerships have saturated the airline industry in recent years, and Amtrak was recently in talks to join the fray, said industry watchers.
But Dallas-based Greyhound Inc. is the first bus company to roll out onto the cobranding highway.
"Research indicates that over 50% of Greyhound's customers do not have a credit card, either because they have no credit history or they had previous problems with credit," said Miles Beacom, president, credit card division, First Premier.
With fares as low as $28 from New York to Washington, "travel by Greyhound skews toward the lower demographic, because the price is right," said James Accomando, president of Accomando Consulting Inc. in Fairfield, Conn.
For a minimum savings deposit of $200, consumers can obtain a Greyhound MasterCard with an equivalent credit limit. The savings account earns 2.53% of interest.
The card carries a processing fee of $9.95 and a $45 annual fee. Balances over $1,000 incur an interest rate of 16.9%, and those under $1,000 18.9%
First Premier will track customer use during the six-month trial period, after which it will decide what type of incentives to offer cardholders.
Those who sign up during the trial period will receive a free round- trip companion ticket valid for travel anywhere in the United States.
"Based on the incomes of our customers, having a credit card will enable them to become owners instead of renters of items," said Ralph Borland, Greyhound's vice president for sales and service.
Because some secured card customers eventually graduate to unsecured cards, Mr. Borland said, Greyhound may also offer one in the future.