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Online Car Retailer, Card Firm Outline 2 New Rebate Programs

April 09, 1998| From Associated Press

An Irvine-based online car retailer and a major credit card issuer are collaborating on two new auto rebate programs.

Called Mobalist, the programs were announced Wednesday by Auto-By-Tel Corp., which sells and leases new and used cars over the Internet, and credit card issuer First USA Corp.

The programs are another attempt by credit card companies to bring the best features of popular frequent-flier programs into the auto sales business and Internet commerce.

Card issuers have stumbled in the past on such programs.

Last year, Ford Motor Co. and Citicorp eliminated rebates toward Ford vehicles that customers could earn by using a Citibank Visa or MasterCard. General Motors Corp. cut in half the rebates toward GM vehicles that its gold-card customers could earn.

Citibank replaced the 5 million Ford cards with new ones that earn 2% rebates, up to $1,500, for any type of car. But Citibank did not issue them to new customers.

In one Mobalist program, consumers obtain a free password over the Internet and use it to get a rebate of up to 20% on online purchases from Barnes & Noble, Uniglobe Travel Online or Everything Wireless, a vendor of wireless telephones and pagers.

A rebate, which must be used toward the purchase or lease of a car from Auto-By-Tel, can also be earned at more than 7,000 restaurants in the Transmedia network.

Starting May 1, the companies will also offer a Visa card that will earn 1% of a charged purchase toward a car. The card will carry a 9.99% annual percentage rate and credit up to $100,000, although cardholders who get the maximum credit have to qualify for a First USA Visa platinum card. There is no annual fee.

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