After resisting cobranding for many years, People's Bank in Connecticut is taking the plunge with a clothing-store card.
In partnership with TJX Cos., the bank is marketing a Visa card to people who shop at Marshalls or T.J. Maxx, national discount apparel chains.
The TJX Visa card is the first major foray into cobranding for the Bridgeport savings bank. It has passed on such deals before because it felt they were not profitable for banks.
"We found the right partner," said John A. Klein, executive vice president of People's credit card services division. "We have looked at a number of deals that did not meet our parameters."
Mr. Klein said People's has another cobranded deal under way as well.
The partners banded through Spectrum International Consulting Corp., Scarsdale, N.Y. Michele Turkel, president of the consulting firm, said the companies fit well together because they both "have the same interest in giving customers a low price."
People's is known for having credit cards with no annual fee and low interest rates; TJX Cos., Framingham, Mass., specializes in apparel chains that offer off-price merchandise. TJX acquired its archrival, Marshalls, last year, which analysts say is the largest off-price retailer, selling both men's and women's clothing.
Schroder Wertheim analyst Richard E. Jaffe estimated that the average sales transaction at T.J. Maxx and Marshalls is $40. The two operate more than 1,000 stores nationwide.
By cobranding standards, the TJX Visa card is offering generous terms.
Cardholders earn a 5% rebate for purchases at Marshalls and T.J. Maxx, and a 1% rebate for all other spending. When the rebate reaches $15, the cardholder receives a coupon for that amount, which can be used at either store. The no-annual-fee card offers a 6.9% introductory rate; thereafter, it is fixed at 15.9%.
"It is a very strong offer between the 5% rebate and the APR," said Frances Dale, president of Entandem Inc., a Reston, Va. consulting firm, pointing out that cobranded cards typically have a higher, variable interest rate.
Available at the end of this month, the card will be promoted by a large, preapproved direct mailing. Although the two chains do not have private-label cards, some stores have maintained data bases that will be used to target old as well as new customers.
People's has a three-year-old affinity card program with State Line Tack Inc., Plaistow, N.H., which sells equestrian merchandise from a catalogue and several retail outlets.