01 January 2000

A REVOLUTIONARY new credit card pioneered by GE Capital Bank of America and Visa is under pilot by department store group, House of Fraser. It combines the functions of storecard, cash card, loyalty card and credit card; a concept that observers believe could be the template for Marks & Spencer’s debut card due to be launched later this year.

A few thousand of HoF’s one million storecard holders have been issued with the new card which, if the trial succeeds, will roll-out to all account holders and new applicants. It can be used not only at Fraser’s fifty-one stores but also at other retailers, cash machines, petrol stations and restaurants - anywhere that normal credit cards are accepted. It also doubles as a loyalty card, earning a point for each pound spent via the card (two points at HoF outlets) - even at rival stores such as Debenhams. A shopper holding other loyalty cards who uses the HoF card to buy goods at, say, Tesco or Sainsbury, would receive loyalty points both from the supermarkets and HoF.

Issued without a fee, the card allows up to 56 days credit interest-free and thereafter levies interest at 19.9% - although debit balances from other credit cards transferred to the Fraser scheme will enjoy an interest rate of only 7.9% for the first six months.