AOL and First USA In $500 Million Marketing Pact

In what is being hailed as the biggest Internet deal of its kind, America Online, Inc. Wednesday announced a $500 million advertising and marketing agreement with BANK ONE CORP. subsidiary First USA.

The new five-year alliance extends the companies earlier partnership, begun in 1996, in which they issued a co-branded credit card, the AOL Visa card.

Today’s announcement names First USA as the exclusive marketer of credit card products and services on AOL, as well as subsidiaries CompuServe, AOL.COM and AOL Instant Messenger in the U.S. and Canada. Products and services will also be marketed on AOL’s Digital City. The companies said they expect the union to yield up to $500 million if targeted goals are reached and also anticipate major guaranteed revenue to AOL and marketing agreements to First USA.

First USA, which is the country’s largest credit card issuer, expects to gain millions of customers through marketing to what it bills as the largest cyberspace community. In addition to being the exclusive provider of credit cards for AOL users, First USA products will get a wide variety of advertising and promotions across throughout AOL brands.

Online services are to include:

  • instant online application, credit and approval
  • the ability to earn AOL co-branded card reward points
  • immediate option to transfer balances online from other cards with no transfer fees
  • online customer service, such as previous bill viewing, charges viewing, balance updates
  • 24-hour online statement access and online bill payment
  • email customer service and 24-hour, seven-day a week phone service
  • request to increase credit limits and issuing additional credit cards
  • online shopping guarantee against unauthorized charges

“The 1998 America Online/Roper Starch Cyberstudy showed that the convenience and ease-of-use of handling personal finances online made it one of connected consumers’ most popular activities,” said Bob Pittman, president and COO of America Online, Inc.

“For nearly three years, our successful partnership with First USA has provided AOL members with high-quality credit card products and services. In this historic alliance with First USA, we are able to offer even more benefits and convenience to both AOL and CompuServe members and Internet consumers who use AOL.COM, AOL’s Digital City, and AOL Instant Messenger,” Pittman said.

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