MasterCard is extending to all cardholders a no-shipping-fee deal for card purchases from participating catalogue merchants.
The successful incentive program, Master Values by Mail, has been available for two years to holders of gold cards, MasterCard International said.
The savings, which can range from $5 to $25, have lured people to spend at least $21 more than the typical $106 catalogue purchase, said Christopher B. Matthews, MasterCard's vice president of merchant promotions.
The higher spending levels, and the fact that 30% of the people who request catalogues place orders, persuaded merchandisers to forgo the profits they make from shipping and handling fees.
Traditionally, response rates for mail solicitations are between 1% and 2%, said Mr. Matthews.
Master Values by Mail is one of four programs in the Master Values package, which MasterCard began developing in 1990 to increase transaction volume and customer loyalty.
Visa Rewards offers travel discounts to Visa cardholders, but the association has no comparable program with catalogues.
In two years since MasterCard began Master Values by Mail, the number of participating banks has grown from six to 20.
This month, the banks are targeting standard as well as gold MasterCard customers with Master Values by Mail promotions.
Among those issuers is Household Bank, which is offering the program to several million of its customers, said spokesman Ron Muratore. General Motors cardholders are not eligible, though some of Household's other affinity cardholders qualify for Master Values by Mail.
"We have been very pleased with the program, which seems to be generating a positive response from our customers," said Mr. Muratore.
Cardholders may order as many as 12 catalogues, such as Victoria's Secret, This End Up Furniture Co., NordicTrack, and J.C. Penney Co., twice a year from a toll-free number that MasterCard operates.
So far in the program, customers have been ordering an average of five catalogues and spending $127 per catalogue. In 1995, 5.2 million catalogues were distributed through the program.
It is rare for catalogue vendors to waive shipping and handling fees, Mr. Matthews pointed out. Some do so, though, for merchandise ordered in person at their retail outlets, he said.