A regional bank in New England known for issuing credit cards with a philanthropic bent has cast an eye on home shoppers.

Citizens Bank, Providence, R.I. has agreed to issue cobranded cards with the Shop at Home network, which has 500,000 customers who spend $150 on the average purchase.

"Many of our cards involve philanthropic causes, but with this product we are targeting the huge customer base of the Shop at Home channel," said Rosemary Knight, spokeswoman for the $15 billion-asset bank, a unit of Citizens Financial Group Inc., which is owned by Royal Bank of Scotland.

The bank's previous cards have sought to promote good citizenship, education, and the environment.

Citizens Bank is not the first to link a credit card to a home shopping network. In 1991, MBNA began issuing a cobranded Visa with St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Home Shopping Network Inc. The network, which has five million customers, added a private-label card from GE Capital in 1994.

Shop at Home's customer base, derived from 35 million households in 50 states, generated $40 million dollars in sales in 1995.

Cardholders will receive a 5% rebate on all Shop at Home purchases with no annual cap, and a 2% rebate for all other purchases to a maximum of $250 per year. The Shop at Home Visa card comes without a fee.

"A 5% discount is a rich incentive to drive purchase volume," said Jeff Baxter principal of the Baltimore-based consulting firm S.J. Baxter & Associates.

The rebate will be in the form of Shop at Home dollars customers can redeem for Shop at Home merchandise.

"Offering them a credit card will reward them with more buying power," said Jon Keck, director of creative services for the 10-year-old Knoxville, Tenn., shopping network.

The average Shop at Home buyer is between 25 and 54 with a household income of $55,000, said Mr. Keck.

The card has an five-month introductory interest rate of 5.9%, which then zaps to prime plus 7.9%, currently 16.15%.

The partners are marketing the card through television commercials, direct mail, and telemarketing.

"Citizens Bank has the advantage of targeting an existing customer base," said Daniel Page, chief executive officer of the consulting and marketing firm National Affinity Cards, based in Boulder, Colo. "Because everyone buys consumer goods, it's a very lucrative market to target."

Citizens Bank also issues:

*The Good Citizens card, which lets cardholders designate a specific cause that they would like to support.

*The Education Card, available only in New Hampshire, which donates 0.5% of purchases to local public schools.

*The Save the Bay Card, with 1,000 accounts filtering funds into a cleanup and preservation campaign.

Citizens has 287,000 card accounts with $265 million in outstandings.

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