French luxury seems to be the prize of choice for year-2000 credit card promotions.
MasterCard International and one of its on-line travel partners, Preview Travel Inc., plan to send eight couples to a French chateau for New Year's Eve.
American Express Co. is promoting a four-day New Year's Eve package for platinum card customers that includes a fete at Versailles.
For the next eight months, people who use MasterCard to buy airline tickets through Preview Travel's Web site will automatically be entered in the contest. MasterCard customers can also enter by submitting an electronic ballot on Preview Travel's site.
One winner per month will be selected to spend four nights with a guest in Chateau de Courcelles, a Louis XIV-style mansion in the Champagne region, 70 miles from Paris. One grand prize winner, to be named Sept. 24, is to be flown with a guest on the Concorde.
The prizes include meals in the chateau, a Champagne cellar tour, a New Year's Eve dinner dance, and a new set of luggage.
MasterCard and Preview Travel announced a marketing alliance in 1998.
Under the agreement, MasterCard is the exclusive payment sponsor of the Preview business travel center.
The association has a similar arrangement with a similar site, 1travel.com.
"MasterCard's alliance with Preview Travel and the millennium celebration are part of our e-commerce initiative designed to build consumer awareness of the ease and convenience of shopping on-line," said Larry Flanagan, vice president of U.S. advertising at MasterCard in Purchase, N.Y.
American Express' millennium package costs $19,500 per couple and promises "four days of unrivaled luxury."
The trip starts in Paris and moves on to Versailles for a New Year's party in the palace of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
Visa U.S.A. said it has no millennium-based promotion to announce at the moment. American Express said more millennium promotions are in the works.