Stepping up its efforts in the platinum end of the credit card market, First USA Inc. unveiled two glitzy new affinity products last week.
The Dallas-based company launched a Honda Motorcycle Visa card. Motorcycle enthusiasts who sign up for the card can select from eight designs or can submit photos of themselves on their bikes for display on the card.
First USA also announced plans for an affinity card with the retailers of the renowned Rodeo Drive shopping strip in Beverly Hills, Calif. The Rodeo Drive Visa card will debut in the fall.
First USA has made its name by aggressively pursuing the affinity and cobranded market. Since the company introduced its platinum card last year, new product launches have come at a frenetic pace.
"A number of issuers are pushing very hard to build a platinum-card base," said Stanley Anderson, president of Anderson and Associates of Arvada, Colo. "Essentially what they are doing is moving their gold customers up to the next level."
The Rodeo Drive card is being pitched as a hybrid-combining the features of an affinity and a cobranded card. People can apply for classic, gold, or platinum versions, and a percentage of purchases will benefit Los Angeles- area charities.
At the same time, cardholders can receive shopping-related rewards- including two hours of free valet service.
"The program is unique but it probably has a very limited application," Mr. Anderson said. "People who are accustomed to shopping on Rodeo Drive probably either have accounts with the stores or already have a gold or platinum card."
Mr. Anderson said tourists and others who do not frequently visit the upscale street would probably not be drawn to the card or its support of local charities.
But Craig Donahue, a spokesman for the Rodeo Drive Committee, said he thought the card would have more widespread appeal. The famous strip has more than 70 landlords and merchants including Cartier, Chanel, Giorgio Armani, and Tiffany.
Mr. Donahue said cardholders will receive a panoply of benefits-some not yet finalized-including preferred access to fashion previews and invitations to see visiting fashion designers.
Industry observers said charities are a preoccupation in Beverly Hills and this Visa card would be a new opportunity to direct funds to them. But they said regular shoppers are likely to be associated with fund-raising programs already, and most Rodeo Drive shops routinely support charities by donating merchandise to auctions.
By contrast, the Honda motorcycle affinity card might attract broader support. Honda Rider's Club of America has more than 100,000 members.
Honda enthusiasts have tremendous loyalty toward the brand, said Walter Miller, business coordinator for the Torrance, Calif.-based Honda club.
"Those cardholders will probably be fairly active users of the card," Mr. Miller said.
The Honda Motorcycle Platinum Visa carries a 5.9% introductory interest rate for five months, then jumps to a fixed rate of 15.99%. For Honda Riders' Club of America members the interest rate tops out at 13.99%.
The card is also available as a classic Visa product, but not gold.
Among the designs cardholders can request are pictures of vintage Hondas and of custom models. A "photo card" is available for bikers who want to view themselves on their own vehicles when they make purchases.
Applications will be available through direct mail, a toll-free number, Honda dealerships, and First USA's Web site.