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Wal-Mart debuts Discover card
Credit card to carry no annual fee, 9.9% rate for in-store and out-of-store purchases.
February 22, 2005: 11:16 AM EST

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Wal-Mart launched its long-anticipated Wal-Mart Discover card Tuesday in a bid to undermine the credit card dominance of Visa and MasterCard as it moves into the financial services sector.

Featuring interest rates under 9.9 percent, the card has no annual fee and is usable inside and outside of the retailer's stores, according to Wal-Mart (down $0.18 to $52.54, Research), which already offers an in-store credit card. The card offers up to 1 percent cash back on purchases and 3 cents a gallon off purchases at Wal-Mart stores.

"I think what we're going to do is offer the full spectrum of our customer financial products," said Wal-Mart spokesman Marty Heires. Heires said that the Discover would be offered to customers with established credit, and is something that customers without established credit "can aspire to."

This is Wal-Mart's latest effort to branch into non-retail sectors, such as banking. The move appears to stem from a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court last year that let stand an antitrust ruling that forced Visa and MasterCard to allow banks to offer rivals' cards.

The Wal-Mart Discover card will be issued by GE Consumer Finance, a Stamford, Conn.-based unit of General Electric (down $0.09 to $35.79, Research) Co. that has been providing credit cards to Wal-Mart since 1999.

Wal-Mart, a Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer with 3,600 stores in the U.S., has offered discount money orders, payroll check cashing and utility-bill payment services for years. Discover Financial Services is a unit of Morgan Stanley (down $0.31 to $57.34, Research).

Wal-Mart stock was little changed on the news, which was first reported by the New York Post in its Tuesday editions.  Top of page

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