Jacob R. (Jack) Alter, who used $30 to start a financial company that grew to become Advanta Corp., died Sept. 25 in Abington, Pa.

He was 90. The cause of death was heart failure.

As a high school teacher in Philadelphia and an officer of the teachers credit union, Mr. Alter became frustrated because school hours were about the same as bank hours. To provide more convenience, he started Teachers Service Organization in a spare room of his home in northeast Philadelphia.

Business was done by mail, and Mr. Alter posted accounts at night in a leather-bound ledger. His children - among them Dennis, who is now Advanta's chairman - helped by stuffing envelopes.

Mr. Alter issued high-yield thrift certificates and low-interest loans to public school teachers at a time when many banks turned them away because of their nine-month salaries.

Mr. Alter's loans did not require monthly payments during vacation months. He also offered "strike loans" until contract issues were settled.

Mr. Alter expanded the firm to serve teachers in 25 states. He retired in 1972, leaving Dennis Alter as chairman.

Teachers Service Organization changed its name in 1988 to Advanta, which has climbed to eighth in credit card outstandings. The Horsham, Pa., company has 3,000 employees, more than six million customers, and $18 billion in assets.

In addition to his son, Mr. Alter is survived by his wife, Helen Berman Alter, and a daughter, Linda Lee Alter.

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