Toyota Motor Corp. will lead the Japanese auto industry into the realm of cobranded credit cards.
The carmaker's cards will be issued through three Japanese credit companies: JCB Co., UC Card Co., and Million Card Service Co.
The cards will be offered in Japan and denominated in Japanese yen. Consumers can chose the brand they prefer. JCB is a prominent card issuer expanding into the United States and other popular Japanese travel destinations. UC Card and Million Card offer the MasterCard and Visa brands.
Like its U.S. counterparts, General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Corp., Toyota will offer a credit card replete with rebate features.
Cardholders will collect points for items charged in Japan and overseas. The points are redeemed for a cash rebate on a new Toyota vehicle.
"If you're first you have an advantage, and in the Japanese auto industry, we're the first to come to market with a credit card," said Tim Andree, group manager of external affairs at Toyota Motor Services in New York.
Compared with U.S. consumers, the Japanese have not been inundated with myriad credit card offers. Japanese cardholders are less likely to carry revolving credit balances.
Even so, Mr. Andree said, "I'm sure that in making this announcement, Toyota did its homework and decided there was a market worth trying to serve."
'Need to Compete'
Michael J. Auriemma, managing director, Auriemma Consulting Group, said he was surprised Toyota was issuing cards in Japan. "The need to compete is greater in the U.S., especially on the cobranded front."
Mr. Auriemma pointed out that American car companies as a whole have been gaining ground on their Japanese competitors. "I'd be surprised if a U.S. card didn't follow."
Mr. Andree indicated there are no current plans for a U.S. card.
The Toyota cobranded card can be utilized to pay for vehicle inspections, repairs, parts and car-rental fees at participating Toyota car dealers and rental agencies nationwide, as well as routine credit card purchases.