NextCard Inc., which has been running pop-up ads on the Internet warning people that other credit card firms may be overcharging them, will soon be offering credit cards with interest rates as high as 34% under a new marketing deal with CompuCredit Corp., the monoline card issuer that caters to subprime customers.
NextCard, the San Francisco-based credit card lender whose flagship Visa card is meant to be used on the Internet, has been running ads on The New York Times and Los Angeles Times Web sites that open a window on a consumers computer screen and say Account Over-Charge, in big letters. The ads tell readers that if your credit card charges more than 2.99% interest, you could be paying much less!
Though NextCard primarily courts prime customers who might qualify for low interest rates from nearly any card issuer, the agreement announced Monday with CompuCredit which issues a Visa called Aspire for the subprime market could significantly widen the range of people who can obtain the NextCard brand.
Lisa Rossi, a spokeswoman for NextCard, said that most people know they will not automatically qualify for the lowest rate named in a pop-up ad. The OCC is constantly monitoring our ads, and if it was misleading, they would note that to us, and they havent, she said.
The pop-ups specifically say as low as 2.99% and are carefully-worded to encourage people to apply, Ms. Rossi said. Not very many people actually get 2.99% fixed, and people know what they are going to get based on their other credit cards.
Under the CompuCredit deal, NextCard will offer people who do not qualify for its own products a cobranded product called the NextCard Aspire Visa, which will be underwritten by CompuCredit. The card will bear a much higher interest rate 14% to 34% and lower average credit line $2,000 than other NextCard products. In exchange, CompuCredit will pay NextCard a fee per customer acquired.
John Hashman, chief executive officer of NextCard, said 15% of the people who apply for products through his companys Web site get approved for prime or superprime cards, 20% to 50% are offered a secured card, and about 40% are turned away.
From now on, the bottom 40% will be offered the card from CompuCredit, which has made a specialty of serving just such people, and has already made a similar deal with Fleet Credit Card Services, the FleetBoston Financial Corp. subsidiary.
Accepting NextCards castoffs and offering them cards with the NextCard name will help our response rate, said Nancy King, a CompuCredit spokeswoman. You get a better customer feeling if they still are getting a NextCard, but on CompuCredit terms.
Mr. Hashman said the deal with CompuCredit is not connected to the pop-up ad campaign, which he characterized as another iteration of NextCards test-and-learn advertising philosophy.
In a summary of newspaper articles circulated Monday by Slate Magazine, editors knocked the NextCard ad, saying they wondered whether such a misleading ad would be accepted by the print edition of the online papers.
I dont think it is misleading, said Mr. Hashman. I quite honestly dont know why the pop-ups might generate complaint. It will not be effective if it annoys people.