Key Federal Savings Bank is aiming its latest affinity credit card at the $300 billion black consumer market.
The Owings Mills, Md., bank, known for pioneering secured credit cards, developed the card with Black Expo U.S.A. of Atlanta. The card is designed to promote black-owned businesses.
This is Key Federal's second program aimed at the black community. In 1989, the bank began offering America's Black Colleges, or ABC card, which supports a scholarship fund for the 115 black colleges and universities in the U.S. Key Federal contributes up to $7 to the fund for every new ABC card it issues, as well as a percentage of the transaction volume.
Key Federal has a similar arrangement with Black Expo U.S.A. The bank will donate a certain amount of the transaction volume, as well as part of the annual fee.
Destination of Proceeds
Black Expo U.S.A., which organizes trade fairs to promote black entrepreneurs and companies that market to the black community, gives the proceeds generated from its new card to the nonprofit National Black Business Trade Association.
The Washington-based association is a membership organization that offers black entrepreneurs discounts on health insurance and travel services, among other things.
Applications for the card will be available at Black Expo U.S.A. conventions, which can attract as many as 30,000 businesspeople and consumers. Other marketing efforts will include direct mail and advertisements in the black press arranged by the trade group.
18.9% Rate, $35 Fee
Consumers can apply for the Black Expo Visa or MasterCard, though the card, which will feature the trade group's logo, will not be available for two months. In the meantime, applicants will receive a standard Key Federal credit card.
The Black Expo card carries a 18.9% interest rate and a $35 annual fee. Key Federal is offering a secured card with a $25 annual fee and a 16.9% interest rate.
Robert M. Bouza, senior vice president of Key Federal Savings bank and president of the bank's credit card operations, expects to issue 25,000 cards in the first year.
He explained that the benefits cardholders will receive have not been finalized, but that Black Expo U.S.A. plans to mail customers discount coupons which can be redeemed for goods of companies that participate in its exhibitions.
"Based on account information I will provide to Black Expo, cardholders will receive some kind of bonus gift certificates" that can be used regardless of how the consumer decides to pay for the merchandise, said Mr. Bouza.
Another affinity product targeting the black community was announced in April. Black Americans of Achievement Inc. of San Diego, Calif., a firm that develops marketing products for various ethnic groups, plans to launch a credit card bearing its name. Some of the profit would go into scholarship funds for black students.
Black Americans of Achievement signed an agreement with Affinity Partners of Newtown, Mass., to negotiate contracts with bank partners. Louis Corbo, president of the California firm, estimates that more than one million accounts could be captured in the year the card becomes available.