Wilmington Trust Co. is offering its customers prepaid telephone calling cards through branch offices in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Florida.
Users of the RapidCall phone card pay 35 cents per minute for calls within the United States.
The card can be purchased in initial amounts of $5, $10, or $20, and can be replenished using a Visa, MasterCard, Wilmington Trust QuickCheck card, or Wilmington Trust MAC card.
Charles W. King, spokesman for $5.1 billion-asset Wilmington Trust, said it will offer the cards to all bank customers. Businesses can distribute them to traveling employees, thereby cutting long-distance costs.
Wilmington Trust is a founding member of SmartCash, a group of banks and technology companies that plans to implement a smart card pilot in Delaware. The bank also expects to participate in Electronic Payment Services Inc.'s prepaid smart card pilot.
Though its phone cards do not contain chips, the Delaware bank said it hopes they will promote awareness of the stored value concept.
Like many banks exploring stored value, or electronic purse, cards, Wilmington Trust expects to make money on them. But some marketing experts say the cards can be most effective as promotional tools.
"We're using (the cards) in conjunction with new product introductions," said Michael P. Williams, president of Miami-based Access Global Communications Corp., which specializes in prepaid-card promotions with banks,
He said the addition of phone cards to debit card mailings is contributing to 45% activation and response rates.
Mr. King said Wilmington Trust does not rule out such promotions, but its emphasis is on building fee income.