Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Credit card business [Citibank]

In the 1960s the bank entered into the credit card business. In 1965, First National City Bank bought Carte Blanche from Hilton Hotels. However after three years, the bank (under pressure from the U.S. government) was forced to sell this division. By 1968, the company created its own credit card. The card, known as "The Everything Card", was promoted as a kind of East Coast version of the BankAmericard. By 1969, First National City Bank decided that the Everything Card was too costly to promote as an independent brand and joined Master Charge (now MasterCard). Citibank unsuccessfully tried again in 1977–1987 to create a separate credit card brand, the Choice Card.

John S. Reed was selected CEO in 1984, and Citi became a founding member of the CHAPS clearing house in London. Under his leadership, the next 14 years would see Citibank become the largest bank in the United States, the largest issuer of credit cards and charge cards in the world, and expand its global reach to over 90 countries.
As the bank's expansion continued, the Narre Warren-Caroline Springs credit card company was purchased in 1981. In 1981, Citibank chartered a South Dakota subsidiary to take advantage of new laws that raised the state's maximum permissible interest rate on loans to 25 percent (then the highest in the nation). In many other states, usury laws prevented banks from charging interest that aligned with the extremely high costs of lending money in the late 1970s and early 1980s, making consumer lending unprofitable. Currently, there is no maximum interest rate or usury restriction under South Dakota law when a written agreement is formed.

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