SINCE General Motors Corporation launched its new credit card in September, more than 1.5 million cards have been issued, says Ronald Zebeck, managing director of GM's credit card operations.
"This was well above our original expectations," Mr. Zebeck says.
Other nonbank card issuers such as AT&T and General Electric are keen to acquire a large share of the United States credit card market. "We're here to sell more cars and trucks, not to compete with other" card issuers, he says.
Research by GM shows that many Americans do not like the rising prices of imported cars. Buyers want for better value for their money, he says. GM's MasterCard cardholders earn a rebate of 5 percent on their purchases toward buying new GM cars. The rebate - up to $3,500 over seven years - can't be used for any other purpose.
In June 1991, Ford introduced a credit card that offers cash rebates for its customers. "Most times a customer prefers cash back in their pocket," says Fred Stern, a spokesman for Ford.
Currently, Chrysler Corporation doesn't have plans to issue a similar credit card, a spokesman says.
GM is looking to build its customer loyalty through the credit-card marketing tool.
"People don't buy a car every day.... Most people don't know cars they are going to buy four years from now," Zebeck says. People who may not consider buying American cars now might change their minds later, he says. This is why GM is giving customers seven years to think about their next car purchases.
Each year about 4 million people buy GM cars.