Providian Financial Corp. is testing a platinum card that offers an eye-catching $100 credit for transferring an existing card balance.

The San Francisco bank card issuer has been experimenting with the product for several months and expects it will glisten in consumers' mailboxes.

"We want to differentiate our product from the clutter out there," said Providian spokeswoman Laurie A. Cole.

Robert Skolnick, executive vice president of BAI Global, a Tarrytown, N.Y., firm that tracks card solicitations, said the $100 credit offer "is not that common." Low "teaser" interest rates are more conventionally used to entice card debtors to switch.

Providian is also hoping to attract attention with a 0% interest rate on new purchases for three months, a strategy Mr. Skolnick called "extreme."

Known for its combination of target-marketing cleverness and superior bottom-line results, Providian is not giving away the store. The small print of the offer shows that the promotional rate on transferred balances is 12.9% for three months, which thereafter can jump as high as 21.9%.

The two interest rates-one for transferred balances, the other for new purchases-become one after three months. The $100 credit is meted out over the same period. The objective is to garner "active users of credit," Ms. Cole said.

In the past year, many issuers have been experimenting with separate interest rates for new purchases and transferred balances.

"The idea is to price products as low as possible to as many people as possible but to have a safety net of fees," Mr. Skolnick said.

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