27 April 2004
Radical plastic surgery
Last time we heard from Carte Blanche, owner Citigroup had essentially merged it into Diner's Club, but the two travel/entertainment cards, even combined, continued to lose ground (and market share) against the American Express juggernaut.
Citigroup has now decided to give Carte Blanche a boost by making its acceptance ubiquitous: the Carte Blanche card will now bear a MasterCard logo, which means that any place which honors MasterCard (which is just about any place that hasn't struck an exclusive deal with some other card) will be happy to take Carte Blanche.
This action could spur demand for Carte Blanche cards, and it should solidify Citigroup's position at the top of the MasterCard food chain. (Citigroup, after a court battle with Visa over branding, no longer offers new Visa cards, though existing Visa accounts are still serviced.)
Still to be determined: what, if anything, will happen when JP Morgan Chase, the third-largest issuer in the MasterCard universe, completes its merger with Bank One, at the top of the Visa heap.