MasterCard has enriched its MasterValues for Business program with targeted offers in the business services, travel, and hospitality industries.
Last year, the New York-based association expanded the discount program to its business card area with a handful of offers similar to those it provides standard and gold cardholders.
Elizabeth Brett, director of marketing for MasterCard Business card, said this year's program is less consumer-oriented and more targeted to the travel and entertainment and services needs of the business community.
MasterCard business cardholders can earn a 10% to 50% discount from Avis, Hertz, GTE, Penny Wise Office Products, QuickXpense, Home Office Computing, Trans World Airlines, Travelodge, The Wall Street Journal, Official Airline Guides, and 800-Flowers. New partners are expected to be announced this year.
At least half of the 80 issuers of MasterCard's 2.5 million business cards are expected to participate, Ms. Brett said. When the program begins next month, issuers can alert cardholders through statement inserts that include coupons. Also, business cardholders can receive the savings by mentioning the MasterValues for Business program when placing orders by telephone.
Discounts are available Feb. 1 through Dec. 31. MasterCard has designed the program in two phases: statement inserts in February to include business products and services discounts, plus T&E offers, and inserts in September to feature only T&E discounts.
In this way, Ms. Brett pointed out, issuers can distinguish the needs of larger corporate clients from the smaller ones. "Smaller companies need help in negotiating better rates" on travel, for example, she said.
MasterCard said the program is designed to spur usage and attract new customers.
"We will start to see discount offers to companies and business card customers that might be different from what you see in the consumer world," said Art Clark, partner at Business Dynamic, a consulting firm in Nyack, N.Y.
"There will be more focus on business T&E or the purchasing category that will appeal to owners and to the salespeople he gives the card to."
The positioning allows small and medium-sized companies to compete with Fortune 500 companies, Mr. Clark added. "With your corporate card you can have the same great cost economies your brethren have in Fortune 500 companies."
MasterValues began in 1990 to offer standard cardholders discounts of 10% to 25% off name-brand products. MasterValues has expanded to the gold and business cards, plus to specific places, such as factory outlets and to specific users, such as people who shop with catalogs.
Although, MasterCard calls MasterValues a "one-of-a-kind" program, Visa U.S.A. and American Express have discount programs of their own for small business and corporate cardholders.
This month American Express Small Business Services and Mobil Oil Corp., for instance, began a 3% discount program on gasoline purchases made by cardholders.
Under its Savings and Rewards program, American Express Corporate Card for Small Business provides special rates at hotels, car rental agencies, and with United Parcel Service, plus discounts on office supplies and travel items and participation in Membership Miles, the frequent-flier program.
Visa has had an on-going lodging discount program for corporate cardholders, who can receive up to 60% savings at 10,000 hotels worldwide. Also, Visa corporate and small business cardholders benefit from the Visa Rewards discount program, introduced last fall.
For every $1 spent on a Visa classic, gold, debit, or business card, the cardholder will earn a 10-cent credit that can be redeemed for savings on a wide range of products and services.