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Citibank Teams Up With NFL on New Visa Card

December 31, 1987

NEW YORK (AP) _ Football fans can put their loyalty on display every time they use their credit card under a new program developed by Citibank and the National Football League.

The nation’s biggest bank and the NFL have teamed up in a program that will put NFL team emblems and colors on special Visa credit cards.

The program will give cardholders a chance to obtain some NFL merchandise for free and get a 20 percent discount on other football-related items.

The program that includes 27 of the NFL’s 28 teams has been introduced locally over the past 2 1/2 weeks, and details of it were confirmed Wednesday by the NFL and Citibank.

The 28th team, the New York Giants, signed up earlier with First Fidelity Bank in New Jersey on a similar credit card program launched last summer.

The ″overwhelming response″ to that credit card offer helped convince the NFL to proceed with a card program for the other teams, said Brian Hughes, marketing manager for NFL Properties Inc., the league’s licensing and marketing arm.

Under the Citibank Visa card program, the NFL will get a percentage of the card fees and interest payments on sales generated with the cards, Hughes said.

He said at least 5 percent of the sales generated by the cards will be donated to NFL Charities Inc., a league operation that makes donations to local and national charitable organizations.

Citibank, based in New York, will share in revenue from the card fees and interest payments as well as have access to the NFL’s mailing lists collected over the years, Hughes said.

Hughes and Citibank spokesman Bill McGuire each declined to estimate how much money the cards would generate for NFL Charities or how many cards the bank expected to issue.

Spencer Nilson, publisher of the trade newsletter the Nilson Report, which follows the credit card business from Santa Monica, Calif., said Citibank might get 500,000 new card accounts through the program.

McGuire said Citibank already is the biggest issuer of bank cards with more than 10 million accounts outstanding.

The Citbank-NFL Visa card is the latest entry in a growing field of ″affinity cards.″ Under typical agreements, a college alumni club, religious organization, a charity or group such as Vietnam veterans or the Sierra Club team up with a bank on a credit card that bears the group’s emblem. The group often gets money every time something is charged to the card.

Nilson estimated there are 450 different versions of affinity cards available.

Citibank’s McGuire said there will be no fee for the NFL Visa cards for the first six months but the card will have an annual fee of $25 after that.

He said the cards will carry an interest rate of 17.8 percent on purchases and 19.8 percent on cash advances.

For every $5 purchased with the card, the cardholder will earn a ″Pro Dollar″ that can be collected and used to obtain NFL merchandise ranging from a sweatband or coach’s cap to a helmet or coach’s jacket with team emblem.

″We think it’s a fun thing for the NFL enthusiast who has a close association with the team and wants to be identified with it,″ McGuire said.

Hughes said the card will be marketed with print advertising and by direct mail over the next few months. Next football season, the cards will be advertised on radio and television and in print, he said.

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