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Connecticut Thrift Offers Bilingual Credit Card

January 7, 1992

NEW YORK (AP) _ A Connecticut thrift and a Spanish language television network on Monday introduced a bilingual credit card nationwide, believed to be the first of its kind.

Telemundo Group Inc., the nation’s largest Hispanic television network, and People’s Bank of Bridgeport say the new plastic card pinpoints 6.9 million Hispanic households that will generate about $182 billion in buying power in 1991.

The growth potential is huge. About 67 percent of all Hispanics in the U.S. don’t own any credit cards, according to Strategy Research Corp., a Miami- based research group.

″We thought this would be great to go after what has been uncharted waters,″ said Ronald Urquhart, first vice president for consumer credit at People’s Bank. ″We think it is a great opportunity.″

The card, advertised on Telemundo’s stations and affiliates, offers bilingual marketing materials, applications, and account statements. The card will carry the People’s Bank insignia in English but other words in Spanish.

The companies say it’s the nation’s first bilingual credit card. Kurt Peters, editor of the Chicago-based Credit Card News, said he’s unaware of a similar card.

″It’s a perfect example of what credit card issuers have to do these days,″ said Peters. ″The market is so blanketed by cards.″

In recent years, credit card companies have targeted specific markets through special pricing options and other techniques. Peters said the card’s bilingual feature is a good way to target the Hispanic audience.

Urquhart said test marketing of the bilingual card in Miami and San Francisco in November generated as many as 1,000 telephone calls a day from people seeking applications.

The People’s Bank-Telemundo Visa or MasterCard card carries a $25 annual fee and a 13.9 annual percentage rate - one of the lowest in the nation. Nationwide, credit card interest rates average about 18 percent.

Also offered is a secured card with a 16.9 annual percentage rate for people with little or no credit histories. A secured card requires a consumer to place a savings deposit equaling 100 percent of the credit line.

Rosemary Ravinal, director of public relations for the New York-based Telemundo, said the station sought out a bank that would offer a credit card.

″We feel we have an inside link to the Hispanic consumer,″ said Ravinal. ″We’re helping fill a void by helping facilitate the extention of credit to the Hispanic community.″