The largest supplier of equestrian gear in the country will team up with People's Bank of Bridgeport, Conn., to offer a cobranded Visa card that furnishes in-store and mail-order discounts to customers.
The State Line Tack Visa card will carry an 1 1.9% fixed interest rate and a $25 annual fee.
Based in New Hampshire, State Line Tack operates the largest equestrian retail mail-order business in the nation, with more than a million names in its data base.
State Line has a loyal customer base, said Ronald T. Urquhart, vice president of People's. "That's what attracted us."
Riding, a $20 billion industry, appeals to a high-income crowd.
There are 27 million riders nationwide. More than 40% live in households with incomes above $150,000 a year and 90% own more than one payment card, according to Visa research.
State Line will handle the initial credit card promotion, sending fall catalogue inserts on Sept. 15 to 275,000 of their best customers, said Kellie Lawless, spokeswoman for the company.
In addition, the card will be offered in retail stores and through special displays at equestrian events.
Ms. Lawless said State Line expects sales of $40 million this year. The company projects it will realize 37,000 cardholders in the first year.
To entice applicants, State Line is considering two marketing approaches: a $15 gift certificate for every account opened, or more likely, a 5% discount on all purchases, except sale items.
People's Bank, with a $1.3 billion card portfolio, has always offered cards with low fixed interest rates.
The bank has no plans to raise rates or switch to variable rates, even with the Federal Reserve rate hikes.
"We feel the rate is very competitive," he said. "It allows us to attract a lot of customers."
Mr. Urquhart pointed out that "as General Motors and AT&T card rates go through the roof, you're going to see a lot of people switch to these kinds of products."
Although many cards have dropped the annual fee, Mr. Urquhart said, "if you charge an annual fee with a lower interest rate, depending on the balance, you can make it up the first month."
Other affinity cards are associated with the equestrian sport, such as MBNA's Horsemen's Visa, Ms. Lawless said, but "none have the low rates that we're going to offer, or the discounts toward purchases within the industry."
State Line, which is involved with the Olympic equestrian team, chose Visa because of its sponsorship of the Olympics and its enthusiasm.
"Visa has been very aggressive about creating reports to track our customers' spending patterns, so we can offer discounts on products they use the most," Ms. Lawless said.
A Visa spokesman said the two companies were looking at joint olympic promotional opportunities closer to the me of the games in July 1996.