The last year saw no end to the rhapsodies, superlatives, and arrows-up financial projections about the Internet, and nowhere more so than in the credit card industry.

Par for the course, profits are still elusive. First USA of Wilmington, Del., the Bank One Corp. unit that has done more and apparently spent more on the Internet than any other card company, does not go so far as to say it is making money in this new channel. But it says it reduces customer- acquisition costs and promises to return much more on the investment.

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