regarding 3SI's Project:
Universal Savings Bank - Upfront Rewards™ Program
"If you need a computer just to
calculate the interest on your credit-card bill, fear not.
Now, you can get one free -- from your credit-card company.A
bank in Milwaukee has started offering a free Dell Inc., International
Business Machines Corp. or Hewlett-Packard Co. laptop to new
credit-card customers. The catch? You have to maintain a balance
of at least $3,500 for 18 months and pay nearly 10% interest
during that time. You also have to have an excellent credit
The offer comes from Universal Savings Bank,
and its card is called the Upfront Rewards Platinum Visa.
While it's not a household name, the executives behind the
launch of the card are veterans of the rewards-card wars from
Visa, General Motors Corp. and Citicorp.The Universal team
is betting that the market for rewards cards isn't yet saturated.
Most experts believe that everyone who wants a card that earns
frequent-flier miles already has one, since almost every major
U.S. airline has had a deal with a bank for many years. These
cards usually have annual fees, however, which scare away
many people who don't charge much. So in the past year or
two, card companies have raced to offer new fee-free rewards
cards. This fresh plastic earns cash refunds or points that
consumers can trade for free airplane tickets or merchandise
such as golf clubs or luggage.
The twist with the Upfront Rewards card, as
its name suggests, is that it's dishing out the loot as soon
as customers sign up. With other cards, you don't get any
goodies until you've spent enough money to earn them.Universal's
move makes it the latest in a long line of financial-services
companies to use giveaways as a marketing tool, but it also
ups the ante a bit. Decades ago, banks would offer toasters
to people who opened new accounts. More recently, Commerce
Bank, which operates more than 330 branches in the Northeast,
has been giving away items such as George Foreman grills and
golf umbrellas to people who open checking accounts."