CATALOGER BEAN ENTERS WORLD OF AFFINITY CARDS

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Outdoor outfitter L.L. Bean unveiled its own Visa affinity card last week, stocked with lures for its catalog shoppers.

With the L.L. Bean Outdoor Advantage Program Visa card, each purchase earns the customer points toward Bean merchandise and services, including Outdoor Discovery Schools that teach fly-fishing and other outdoor skills.

Also, Bean is waiving its $4.50 Federal Express delivery fee with each purchase made from its catalog using the card.

"People told us they like no-annual-fee cards and they're sick of dealing with shipping charges," said Catharine Harnett, public affairs manager for the 84-year-old marketer, which sells 90% of its merchandise direct through catalogs. L.L. Bean has one store in its hometown of Freeport, Me., and seven factory outlets.

L.L. Bean has long accepted all major credit cards; so do its rivals Lands' End and Eddie Bauer. Although Eddie Bauer also accepts a private store card issued by parent Spiegel, neither it nor Lands' End plans to issue an affinity Visa or MasterCard.

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