Bankoh brings back Visa cards
The bank also will continue to offer American Express
Bank of Hawaii Corp., which upset some customers when it sold its Visa credit card portfolio to American Express Co. more than five years ago, is returning Visa to the bank's menu of services.
The bank announced Saturday it will offer Visa and American Express cards to consumers and Visa credit cards to businesses under a joint marketing agreement with credit card issuer MBNA America Bank N.A. Bankoh said the new credit cards are expected to be available in the third quarter. Customers can apply at branches, online or over the phone.
"We've heard our customers," Allan Landon, Bankoh's chairman and chief executive, said yesterday. "They want the choice and we're delighted we're going to be able to offer it to them."
MBNA, which became a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America Corp. earlier this month, separately purchased Bankoh's existing branded American Express credit card accounts from American Express and later this year will issue existing cardholders a new American Express card with the Bank of Hawaii brand issued by MBNA. American Express account numbers are expected to change, Landon said.
Bankoh sold its Visa credit card portfolio to American Express in December 2000 for an undisclosed amount as part of its turnaround strategy. At the time, the credit card business was marginally profitable and the bank's market wasn't big enough to be competitive, Landon said yesterday.
But the move created a backlash from some of Bankoh's 148,000 Visa cardholders because the American Express card wasn't as widely accepted as Visa in Hawaii, particularly among small businesses. The card is more widely accepted now and Bankoh consumers will have the option of continuing with American Express, signing up for Visa or using both cards.
"This will have a small positive impact on our bank's profitability," said Landon, whose bank releases its fourth-quarter earnings today. "The real reason we did this, of course, is for the benefit of our customers."