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Heartless Bankers? Maybe Not


Up Front: WARM PLASTIC

HEARTLESS BANKERS? MAYBE NOT

THE AGE OF NEWT IS A friendless time for a variety of causes. But they now have a pal in MBNA America. The bank offers what it calls "a revolutionary new credit card" that gives a dime for each charge to 32 organizations. Recipients range from such liberal favorites as the Children's Defense Fund, made famous by Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the Rainforest Action Network to the more mainstream Ronald Mc-Donald Children's Charities.

Ads for the GlobalFocus Visa card evoke the counter-culture heyday by saying it's in the tradition of struggles for civil rights and nuclear disarmament. Yet Newark (Del.)-based MBNA contends its pitch isn't ideological; it just wants to help those who do good and thinks this is a profitable niche. In fact, it also issues an affinity card for the American Legion. Regardless, MBNA seems to have learned to woo the left from a former affinity client, Working Assets Funding Service. Its beneficiaries include a few groups MBNA gives to, but adds some more controversial ones dedicated to gun control, gay rights, and abortion rights. By Joseph Weber


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