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PNC will bring back credit cards to 2 million local clients

| Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2006

PNC Bank plans to roll out credit cards again after being out of the business for more than seven years, the bank said Monday.

The bank, however, will not issue the cards nationally, but only to its 2 million individual and small-business customers in Western Pennsylvania and seven other states, beginning Friday.

"If we went outside our (retail banking) footprint, it would be a terrible mistake because we'd lose focus on making banking easier and more convenient for our customers," said Dan Tuccillo, PNC's executive vice president of consumer products.

The move follows PNC's announcement last week that, also on Friday, the bank would start refunding to customers the $1.50 or so ATM surcharges other banks levy for using their cash machines.

"We need to be top-of-wallet, regardless of whether it's a debit card or credit card," Tuccillo said.

The PNC Bank Select Rewards Visa Platinum card for individuals and PNC Bank Platinum Business Rewards MasterCard for small businesses will be offered with such features as zero annual interest for one year on purchases and balance transfers.

The bank will issue the credit cards and underwrite purchases made with them. But U.S. Bank, Minneapolis, the nation's sixth-largest bank, will process those transactions and provide customer service.

PNC exited the volume-driven credit-card business in March 1999 when the bank sold its card accounts and receivables to MBNA Corp. Bank of America bought the MBNA portfolio last year.

Credit cards represent at least 30 percent of the transaction payments across the banking industry, Tuccillo said.

"That's still a huge percentage of the volume out there."

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