NEW YORK -- The Big Apple may join other cities across the United States that offer an affinity credit card.

Last week, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani instructed city officials to examine the feasibility of issuing a New York City credit card to boost the city's image and its coffers.

The city will consider offers from New York-based American Express Co. and from San Francisco-based Visa International, among other credit card companies.

City officials indicated that MasterCard International might get the cold shoulder because it decided to move its headquarters out of Manhattan.

John S. Dyson, the city's deputy mayor for finance and economic development, said credit card companies approached the city with the idea.

MasterCard has some experience in developing city affinity cards, as does Visa. In September, South Orange, N.J., will begin issuing a MasterCard city card. Already, PIano, Tex., offers a Visa affinity card.

Mr. Dyson estimated that an affinity card could generate as much as $1 million a year.

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