Bell Atlantic and Chase Manhattan Sign Credit Card Agreement
August 21, 1997
NEW YORK -- A new Bell Atlantic credit card will debut next year as a
result of the agreement announced today between the telecommunications
company and Chase Manhattan Bank USA, N.A., a subsidiary of The Chase
Manhattan Corp., the nation's largest banking company.
The announcement follows on the heels of last week's merger between
Bell Atlantic and NYNEX that extended Bell Atlantic's service region
from Maine to Virginia.
Chase, which already issues the NYNEX credit card, has purchased the
Bell Atlantic(Visa( portfolio from First Omni Bank, N.A., a subsidiary
of First Maryland Bancorp. Chase will combine the two portfolios and
issue a credit card bearing the new Bell Atlantic signature early in
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
"We're extremely pleased with this opportunity to partner with a bank
that has strong ties throughout the new Bell Atlantic region," said
Marianne Berry, vice president of Bell Atlantic Credit Card Services.
"Chase brings financial strength and broad industry experience to the
Bell Atlantic credit card," she said. "This is a real win for our
cardmembers and one more way we can continue to give top value. I
think our product will attract many new customers when we introduce it
early next year."
Berry stressed that both NYNEX and Bell Atlantic cardmembers may
continue to use their credit cards and will see no change in billing
or services. The Bell Atlantic Visa was named a top rewards card by
Money magazine in its August issue.
"This partnership is a natural extension of our other banking
relationships with Bell Atlantic and NYNEX, prior to their merger,"
said Michael Urkowitz, Chase executive vice president.
"Chase has carefully chosen a few co-brand partners who are leaders
and innovators in their respective industries to offer our customers
the benefits of the best brands in the telecommunications, retail and
oil businesses. We want to do business with companies that are strong
national or regional firms, who have significant market share and
loyal customers. The Bell Atlantic-Chase co-branded card will be a
strong addition to our diverse selection of credit card products,"
Urkowitz said the Bell Atlantic partnership also offers the potential
for alliances in other areas, including cellular, Internet, video and
Prior to its agreement with Chase Manhattan, Bell Atlantic's Visa was
issued by First Omni Bank. This has been a successful partnership and
the decision to sell the portfolio to Chase was a mutual decision,
said Berry and Richard H. White, president of First Omni.
"First Omni has a strategic commitment to the mid-Atlantic region and
as Bell Atlantic's merger with NYNEX progressed, it became obvious
that it was time to reevaluate our agreement," White said. "Now that
Bell Atlantic has a larger footprint that extends beyond our region,
our bank would have fewer opportunities to develop banking
relationships with our credit card customers."
White said First Omni continues to have an excellent relationship with
Bell Atlantic and will handle customer service and billing on the Bell
Atlantic card until the transfer to Chase is completed in 1998.
"First Omni has played a critical role in developing the rewards
program for the Bell Atlantic card and launching the program. Their
efforts have been a major factor in the card's success and have
positioned us well for the future," added Berry.
The Bell Atlantic Visa was introduced in October 1995 and has grown to
more than 500,000 customers and $350 million in receivables. It
offers cardmembers rewards based on purchases on their credit card,
Bell Atlantic home phone services and calling card calls. Every time
cardholders earn $20 in rewards, they receive a check that can be
applied to their Bell Atlantic phone bill or Bell Atlantic Mobile
bill. Since its introduction, customers have earned more than $20
million in rewards.
At a time when other co-branded cards are pulling back and capping
their reward programs, the Bell Atlantic card has thrived, according
"We think we've found the right formula," she said. "Co-branded cards
are like a three-legged stool. They only stand up if everyone gets
value -- our customers, our partner bank, and Bell Atlantic. We feel
our reward program is an excellent deal for everyone and will hold up
over the long run."
Chase Manhattan, which also issues the Wal-Mart and Shell co-branded
cards, is committed to maintaining a reward program that offers strong
value. "We're making a long-term commitment to the Bell Atlantic
credit card," Urkowitz said.
The Chase Manhattan Corporation (NYSE:CMB) is the largest banking
company in the United States, with over $350 billion in assets. It is
also one of the nation's preeminent financial services companies, with
leading positions in credit cards, consumer finance, mortgage banking,
electronic commerce and investments.
First Maryland Bancorp is the holding company for First National Bank
of Maryland, Dauphin Deposit Bank, the York Bank and First Omni Bank.
Headquartered in Baltimore, First Maryland now operates 291 branches
and nearly 400 ATMs from southern Pennsylvania through Maryland and
the District of Columbia and into northern Virginia. First Maryland
currently has assets of approximately $17 billion.
The new Bell Atlantic - formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and
NYNEX - is at the forefront of the new communications, information and
entertainment industry. With 40 million telephone access lines and
5.5 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are
premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market
leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of
directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the
world's largest investors in high-growth global communications
markets, with operations and investments in 21 countries.