NEW YORK (AP) _ AT&T on Wednesday began letting customers customize their long distance credit cards the way some people create ''vanity'' license plates.

The company's ''Personal Choice'' calling card will have seven to nine numbers plus a four-digit personal identification number that can be kept secret.

For example, a card may have the saying ''CALLMOM,'' the company said.

''For the first time, calling card users can choose the letters or numbers that make the most sense to them - their birthdays, their phone numbers or even their names,'' Jack McMaster, a product management director, said in a statement.

And companies will be able to get customized cards that can be shared among employees.

AT&T's practice of assigning 10-digit random numbers to calling card users will continue for people who don't want the personalized number. About 40 million numbers have been assigned randomly.

Someone who chooses a customized number that has already been chosen will have to pick something different.

''Our customer service representatives are trained to help people find suitable alternatives,'' AT&T spokesman Jon Mellor said.

He said the ability to customize a number will extend to AT&T's Universal card, a general purpose credit card, next year.