Union Planters National Bank in Memphis has unveiled a gold card with all the trappings of other gold products, plus a rebate feature to appeal to frequent travelers.

The Visa Gold sports a $29 annual fee at a time when many other gold cards come without a fee, plus a competitive, variable interest rate at prime plus 3.75%.

Cardholders who book their trips through National Card Control Inc., an enhancement firm based in Crozier, Va., can receive a 5% rebate by sending in their itineraries and Union Planters Visa Gold receipts.

"We really think this is a different product," said Laurel Harrison, vice president of the bank card division. "We know it's not going to appeal to all customers, but it will appeal to those who travel."

The travel agent runs a 24-hour reservation line that cardholders can call to get the lowest fares and rates available, plus discounts at 12 hotel chains.

National Card Control also operates a quick-vacation hotline that gives travelers 10% to 25% discounts on bus trips, air fares, charters, cruises, and the like. Once cardholders qualify for these discounts, they can't receive the other 5%.

In addition, Union Planters has more than doubled the minimum amount of travel insurance a cardholder receives, to $250,000, and offers discounts on car rentals from Hertz, Avis, National, and Alamo.

Push Outside Tennessee

The bank will market the card through its 33 branches in Memphis and regional banking units, and through a toll-free number. It is doing pre-approved and direct marketing to areas outside Tennessee, Ms. Harrison said.

Union Planters also issues a no-fee gold MasterCard, with a 13.5% rate, plus standard MasterCard and Visa card products. In one of the more publicized affinity-niche programs, the bank last year introduced the Louis Rukeyser MasterCard, which has been issued to more than 12,000 members. Overall, the bank has 75,000 accounts and $88 million in outstandings.

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