About two-fifths of U.S. consumers have heard of smart credit cards, but far fewer have any interest in owning one, according to a recent survey by Synergistics Research Corp. of Atlanta.

“Awareness is off to a good start, with Blue leading the way, but in terms of interest and use for capabilities related to the chip, there is still a lot to be done,” said Genie M. Driskill, the chief operating officer and senior vice president for research at Synergistics. The research firm is selling copies of the survey findings, “Smart Cards: the Consumer Perspective,” for $2,500.

The telephone survey asked 1,000 people with annual household income of at least $25,000 a range of questions about their awareness of smart cards, their interest in having one, and the features they would most like to see on a smart card. Survey participants tended to be among the affluent people credit card issuers like to reach; 200 of the households surveyed, or 20% of the respondents, have household income of more than $100,000.

American Express Co.’s Blue card led the field in consumer awareness, with 27% professing to know about it. The smart card products issued by Providian Financial Corp. and the First USA division of Bank One Corp. each had 16% consumer awareness. When asked about chip credit cards in general, 42% of respondents said they knew of them.

FleetBoston Financial Corp.’s Fusion card was left out of the survey. Ms. Driskill said the survey designers wanted two issuers to offer a counterpoint to the better-known Blue, and FleetBoston was left out as a random choice.

Among survey respondents, 100 said they had a smart card. These people were asked why they got their smart card, whether they use a card reader, and what kinds of functions they would like to see on the embedded microprocessor chip. Most chip-card holders said the chip itself played little role in their decision to obtain the card. “The top reason was an attractive introductory interest rate,” Ms. Driskill said.

Synergistics’ researchers asked people who did not have smart cards a series of questions about whether they had heard of or seen advertising for smart cards issued by American Express, Providian, or Bank One.

Among this group, only 3% said they were very interested in obtaining the high-tech cards. An additional 15% said they were somewhat interested; 14% said they were not too interested; and 66% professed to be not at all interested in obtaining a smart card.

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