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    Kroger Tying Food Awards To Credit Card

    CINCINNATI -- The Kroger Co. will debut a new credit card Sunday, Oct. 3, 2004, that combines a conventional charge card with purchase rewards and frequent shoppers' benefits to card holders.

    CINCINNATI -- The Kroger Co. will debut a new credit card Sunday, Oct. 3, 2004, that combines a conventional charge card with purchase rewards and frequent shoppers' benefits to card holders.

    The new card program, created in partnership with the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, will give holders access to "free groceries fast" as well as "incredible savings" on thousands of brands and products available only at Kroger stores in Greater Cincinnati and Dayton, the chain said yesterday.

    "We recognize that our customers have a lot of choices in where to shop, and we're happy to reward them for choosing Kroger," said Bob Hodge, president of Kroger's Cincinnati/Dayton division, of the program.

    By using the 1-2-3 Rewards MasterCard -- which also doubles as a Kroger Plus shoppers' card -- cardholders will earn one reward point for every $1 spent anywhere; two reward points for every $1 spent in participating Kroger-owned stores and supermarket fuel centers; and three extra points per $1 spent on products from Kroger's portfolio of private label programs. Thus, the benefits could add to a total of five points per $1 spent at the chain. Every 1,000 points earns a $10 reward that can be spent in Kroger stores. The rewards will be mailed to shoppers quarterly, in November, February, May and August.

    Consumers who sign on will receive an introductory annual percentage rate (APR) of 0% on balance transfers and purchases for six months.

    Kroger will support the card launch with an aggressive advertising campaign beginning Sunday that includes full-page ads in local newspapers; TV and radio commercials, billboards, in-store promotions and direct mail to 275,000 households in Greater Cincinnati and Dayton.

    "The 1-2-3 Rewards MasterCard is an important part of our effort to build closer relationships with our customers and improve their shopping experience," said Kathleen Kelly, president of Kroger Personal Finance, which was formed late last year to enhance the financial services offered within the company's stores, said: It's three cards in one. Our customers can now enjoy the convenience of a rewards card, the value of the Kroger Plus card and the worldwide acceptance of MasterCard -- all in the great card with a 0% introductory rate and no annual fee."

    Credit card applications will be available in all Kroger stores in Greater Cincinnati and Dayton beginning Oct. 3, as well as by phone and online. Kroger said it plans to expand the card program to other markets in 2005.

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