GM CUTTING BACK ON GM CARD REBATES: 'GOLD ASSETS' WILL OFFER CAR RENTAL, MOVIE BENEFITS

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For the second time in less than a year, General Motors Corp. is shaving its rebate-generating program for GM Card holders.

On June 30, GM will end all its credit card partnerships with Mobil Corp., MCI Communications Corp. and Marriott Hotels-the only remaining partners in the program. The partnerships were an additional way GM's 8 million regular "blue" and gold MasterCard holders accumulated points for rebates on GM vehicles.

Last fall, GM cut in half the $7,000 in rebates its Gold GM Card customers could earn in seven years.

LESS THAN 2% FROM PARTNERS

Hank Weed, managing director of GM Card Operations, said less than 2% of the total points earned came from the partnership program. "With the cost to us of maintaining the partnership network, we decided to redirect our efforts," he said.

The automaker has sold 1.3 million vehicles with card-generated rebates since the co-branded card was launched in 1992 with a $70 million ad sendoff.

GM Card car sales "have been more than we expected, but it hasn't been way out of line," Mr. Weed said.

GM's $7,000 rebate "may have been too rich; my guess is it was," said Bruce Brittain, president of Brittain Associates, a researcher specializing in financial services.

NEW 'GOLD ASSETS PROGRAM'

To ease the latest changes, GM is adding a so-called "Gold Assets Program" for its 600,000 Gold Card carriers when they pay their annual $39 fee.

The new Gold Card program offers free memberships to National Car Rental System's preferred customer Emerald Club. GM says the membership has a $60 retail value. Gold Card owners also will get $2.99 discounts for up to 100 movie tickets annually.

GM wanted to find a way to add value to the Gold Card without adding to car rebates, Mr. Brittain said of the new program.

GM is notifying its 8 million cardholders of the changes via direct mail and

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