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AOL launches teen Visa card

America Online teams up with Visa International to offer cash cards targeting young adults, part of its upcoming release of AOL 9.0 Optimized and AOL for Broadband this summer.

America Online said Tuesday it will team up with Visa International to offer cash cards targeting teens and young adults as part of the unveiling of its refurbished online service this summer.

The AOL Visa Buxx Cash Card looks like a credit or debit card and can be used to withdraw money from ATMs or buy items where Visa is accepted. The difference is that the cash card is prepaid by a parent or guardian who has control over how much a teen can spend using the card.

AOL will offer the card at no extra cost to its members in conjunction with its upcoming release of AOL 9.0 Optimized and AOL for Broadband.

The card is part of AOL's campaign to differentiate its online service as a premium product filled with extra features unavailable through its competitors. AOL is also adding services such as call alerts and voice mail to its 9.0 version.

AOL's push to please subscribers comes as its dial-up base continues to erode. Despite being the world's largest dial-up service, AOL has seen many subscribers defect to faster broadband providers and lower-priced access services.

The dot-com collapse has hurt AOL. Its parent company, AOL Time Warner, said in December that it expects AOL's online advertising revenue to drop 40 percent to 50 percent in 2003.