Magazine article American Banker

Stratus Card Eyes Europe Elite

Magazine article American Banker

Stratus Card Eyes Europe Elite

Article excerpt

Byline: Stephanie Bell, PaymentsSource

Stratus Rewards, a division of Stratus Media Group, is planning to introduce an elite credit card in Europe this summer that will be available only by invitation and will cater to wealthy consumers.

Stratus Rewards in Santa Barbara, Calif., has pursued a similar strategy in the United States with mixed results. It introduced a card, issued by U.S. Bancorp, in 2004 but ended the partnership and stopped issuing the cards in 2006. Representatives of U.S. Bank and Stratus Rewards would give no details on why the partnership ended.

The new Stratus Rewards Visa White Card is to be issued by an unnamed European bank.

When it was introduced, the U.S. card was available through an affiliation with a Stratus Rewards partner or by nomination by another member. Annual membership fees were $1,500 for primary cardholders and $500 for secondary cardholders.

"I'm not surprised the card didn't take off in the U.S. The amount of people the card is geared toward is relatively small, and not everyone within that market is willing to pay for that," said Ron Shevlin, a senior analyst at the Boston research company Aite Group LLC. "It just doesn't resonate as a useful product."

Visa Inc. disagrees. Executives at the San Francisco payments company said that the top end of the consumer market is doing well despite the turbulent economy; it recently began offering the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection for the brand's wealthiest cardholders. …

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