AOL and First USA Sign Internet’s Largest Advertising and Marketing Deal

America Online, Inc. (NYSE: AOL) and First USA, the largest Visa and MasterCard lender in the U.S., announced on Wednesday a five-year $500 million (US$) agreement, reported to be the Internet’s largest advertising and marketing partnership to date. First USA is a subsidiary of Chicago-based Bank One Corporation, which is the nation’s fifth-largest bank holding company, with assets of more than $260 billion.

The companies already have a track record of cooperation, with the co-branded AOL Visa card, established in 1996. This new deal now positions First USA as the exclusive marketer of credit card products and services on AOL, the CompuServe service, and AOL Instant Messenger in the United States and Canada.

The deal is expected to generate up to $500 million, according to the companies’ estimates, but also contains significant guaranteed revenue for AOL and marketing commitments to First USA.

Industry Perspective

This agreement offers AOL the ability to not only cash in on its expanding e-commerce operations, but also to profit additionally from each online transaction that is conducted using the FirstUSA/AOL co-branded credit card in an AOL-based online store. In fact, the companies have already indicated their emphasis on e-commerce transactions by including online shopping guarantees against Internet credit card fraud, as incentive for AOL members to apply for the new card.

This new deal with AOL is a continuation of First USA’s strategic focus on e-commerce transactions. The company has introduced the e.Card Visa targeted specifically at online shoppers, offering 5% cash back for all purchases made with the e.Card at participating online stores like, eToys, and others. This latest agreement with AOL will certainly increase First USA’s e-commerce market share to significant proportions.

According to Richard Vague, chairman and CEO, First USA, “Our new and expanded relationship with AOL evidences our continued commitment to the Internet as an effective marketing channel. This marketing relationship better positions First USA to capitalize on the full power of the Internet channel.”

What AOL Subscribers Get

The companies outlined the benefits available to AOL’s 15 million subscribers as a result of this latest agreement:

No annual fee, 3.9% introductory interest rate and one of the lowest Annual Percentage Rates (9.99% fixed APR) in the market for a co-branded reward program;

The option of applying for co-branded First USA products and services online;

Instant online application and instant credit and approval notification for those who qualify;

The opportunity to earn AOL co-branded card reward points;

The immediate option to transfer balances online from another credit card with no balance transfer fees;

Online customer service: The ability to view previous bills online, print account summaries, view charges, and receive balance updates; a 24 hour online statement access and online bill payment option; E-mail customer service as well as 24/7 telephone support; and the ability to change address and contact telephone numbers, and request increased credit limits and the issuing of additional credit cards; and

An online shopping guarantee against unauthorized charges.


  • Has anything ever happened to help you with this situation as I AM in the same boat! Please email me if they have helped you at all.
    Thank you,
    Lauren Robinson

    • I queried 1st USA about the rewards points. Unfortunately they told me the reward points are only good toward the AOL ISP fee pay down. I don’t plan on using their card anymore, I don’t use AOL, but I have a lot of points that are worthless. Would be nice if you could use them for a pay down on the 1st USA bill.

      • I currently have over 18,000 points and would not use AOL if it was the last service on Earth!!!! I guess the bank woke up one morning and decided to rip everyone off bigtime. Watch how fast I cancel this card.

        • I also have the wonderful AOL Visa Credit card.
          And I too AM being ripped off! I have
          DSL, and only use AOL for the chat rooms.
          I found out that all the points that I have
          accumulated over the years, 20,584 points to be
          exact are totally worthless. Being a BYO
          customer, I can not redeem them for free AOL.
          You can bet that when my 6 month committment
          with AOL under the BYO plan ends, I will be
          telling AOL right where they can take their
          business, and when I get my AOL Visa paid off
          I’ll be cutting that up too! Those points
          are totally worthless to someone like me, and
          I think they need to learn to play fair and
          let everyone benefit from them, instead of the
          few that choose to have AOL as their server.
          DSL is so much faster!! I’m counting down
          the months to when I can be disconnected
          from AOL without paying a penalty and I can
          pay off that card and cut it up!!

  • i have over 8000 reward points but need to know what i can cash them in for besides free service.

    i think 1st usa should include in the monthly bils what items you can receive or if not monthly at least a couple times a year. they put other advertising in with the monthly statements, why not something i can use?

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