Visa U.S.A. will hold one-day seminars of its Bankcard Business School in four U.S. cities this January.

The programs are designed to give issuers tips on ways to increase account acquisition, activation, usage, and retention.

The seminars will delve into a number of what Visa calls "value-added propositions" that are accessible to member banks, such as frequent-flier programs that do not have a single airline partner. Banc One Corp.'s Travel Plus program is one example.

Other such programs might resemble discount restaurant deals like TransMedia or Premier Dining; cards that offer in-house benefits to bank customers, such as Wells Fargo Bank's California Advantage card with mortgage rebates; and Mellon Bank's Cornerstone MasterCard, which pays rebates on card interest payments.

Visa will not be calling much attention to conventional cobranding ventures, which have been among the most prominent card-marketing initiatives in recent years,

"Banks involved in cobranding know how to do that -- we don't need to educate them on it," said Francine Schall, executive vice president of Visa member relations.

"We're looking at other programs banks can employ to increase usage and loyalty."

Visa offers to help evaluate the profitability and costs of potential enhancements.

The seminars will be held Jan. 10 in Atlanta, Jan. 11 in Washingon, Jan. 13 in Chicago, and Jan. 17 in San Francisco.

Visa will use the occasions to disclose consumer survey findings on card enhancements -- both the benefits and the resulting increased cardholder profitability.

"We've done major consumer studies to ascertain consumer reaction to a variety of enhancements compared to some of the cobranded products in the marketplace today," said Ms. Schall.

The seminars will also cover account retention through the Visa Rewards program and Olympic sponsorship opportunities.

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