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Tech Industry

Online credit card wars heat up

Visa card provider NextCard is promoting itself as the credit card service most thoroughly integrated with the Internet.

As online credit card wars heat up, consumers are finding themselves wooed with new services and safeguards for Internet shopping.

One recent entry in the field is NextCard. Launched in December of last year, the Visa card provider is promoting itself as the credit card service most thoroughly integrated with the Internet.

Facing competition from online giants Yahoo and AOL, NextCard is trumpeting features it claims are unique to its service. One of these is automatic approval of online applications through its system that links to three national credit bureaus.

But what might be most appealing to Internet shoppers is no longer unique to NextCard. The company offers an unlimited guarantee against any kind of credit card fraud, a protection the company said it introduced and that its competitors have since imitated. Such a guarantee could prove crucial to easing the flow of Internet commerce, which has been stymied in part by concerns about security.

NextCard also uses the Internet to automate other aspects of the application process. Based on credit histories obtained from credit bureaus, NextCard automatically sends customers four options with a range of introductory rates and lines of credit. The company also offers automatic balance transfers from other credit card accounts, as well as online access to the account once it is established.

Not to be outdone, Yahoo today announced its Platinum Visa card, which offers an online rewards program, Web-based account management, and an antifraud guarantee. Other benefits include auto rental insurance, warranty manager insurance, $1 million travel accident insurance, and emergency assistance programs.

Other more established credit card issuers are beefing up their online programs as well. Bank of America, for example, recently offered its credit card customers access to account information online, joining other credit card companies including American Express, Discover, and Columbus Bank & Trust.