Credit Card Network said it has brought 14 card issuers together at one Internet address, so consumers browsing the World Wide Web can apply on- line for their credit cards.
The service, which has been available for just under a year, costs companies $1,000 to appear, and $15 per approved application.
Mark Muchnick, director of the Seattle-based network, said a bank's own Web site doesn't offer the consumer enough variety. He likened his service to a "credit card application mall."
Consumers can "hyperlink" to issuers' home pages from the network as well, he said.
Some of the 14 clients signed up include Citicorp, First USA Inc., Orchard Bankcard Services, and AT&T Universal Card Services.
The network is listed with more than 200 Internet search engines - like Yahoo and Web Crawler - which allow consumers to enter key words, such as "credit card," and get a list of all the sites containing it. The network is planning to pay for more expensive interactive advertising on the Internet as well as advertising in college newspapers and various newsletters.
Mr. Muchnick said the service is growing rapidly. Over the last two months, 47,000 visits to the address, (http://www.creditnet.com), were recorded. In addition to finding card applications, consumers can download, free of charge, 150 lists of credit card issuers, sorted by price, rebate offers, and other differentiators, like secured cards.
Orchard Bankcard Services, a secured card specialist, decided to use the network to get on-line without making a costly investment, said Karen Frolich, senior vice president and director of marketing, though the bank is considering its own home page.
She said Orchard has been receiving application requests daily since it joined the network, less than six weeks ago.
Now all consumers "can do is request an application and we'll mail it," but eventually the bank will migrate to on-line applications, which can be downloaded directly to credit approval software, she said.
"But before we have someone leave critical data like a social security number, we have to assure ourselves it's safe to transfer that information," said Ms. Frolich.
She said the service is a good idea for banks, but "it's just another channel" for reaching customers, and would not replace traditional methods, like direct mail.