People's Bank has aligned with three chapters of the Black United Fund in offering an affinity credit card to support economic development efforts in black communities.

When cardholders carry a balance, a certain percentage of their finance charge goes to the Black United Fund, an independent philanthropic organization based in Newark, N.J.

"The Black United Fund card provides an excellent opportunity for both of our organizations to reinvest in our communities," said Ronald T. Urquhart, first vice president of consumer credit for the Bridgeport, Conn.-based banking subsidiary of People's Mutual Holdings.

So far the organization's New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois chapters are participating in the program, and the 15 other chapters around the country will likely follow.

Initially, People's Bank will send out 500,000 preapproved direct mail solicitations to people who have supported and are in some way affiliated with one of the three participating chapters. And proceeds will go directly to those chapters.

People's is offering a 14.9% fixed interest rate MasterCard with no annual fee for both the standard and gold card versions.

The Black United Fund of New York negotiated partnerships with several businesses - including Seamans furniture and Hertz car rental - to offer cardholders discounts when they use their credit card to pay for merchandise.

Mr. Urquhart expects the partnership to yield between 50,000 and 100,000 new accounts.

People's Bank has about two dozen other such programs, including a partnership with Telemundo, a Spanish-language television program.

The Black United Fund plans to place public service announcements on radio and television as well as take-one applications in stores participating in the program.

The Black United Fund, established in 1979, has provided $10 million in grants to housing projects and other community-based organizations since its inception.

As part of its work, it rehabilitates housing, providing apartments for low-income and moderate-income families.

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