Visa goes off to varsity

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CAMBRIDGE University is to have its own credit card, available only to its graduates and staff.

The exclusive Visa card will be issued by Beneficial Bank, which pioneered alumni credit cards as a way of generating extra income for academic institutions with the launch four years ago of the Open University card. Since then the 'affinity' Visa card has earned the Open University an extra pounds 500,000.

The universities of Leicester, Bath, Westminster, Middlesex, Wolverhampton, Oxford Brookes and Imperial College have launched cards, and more schemes are planned next year.

The Cambridge card - which bears a striking photograph of the Senate House - has no annual fee and an attractive APR of 20.9 per cent. Cardholders can also open a current account and can have up to pounds 10,000 credit.

The university's staff and all Cambridge alumni provide a market of more than 100,000 potential cardholders.

The university will receive an initial payment for each account opened, as well as income on subsequent card usage. The extra revenue will be used for unexpected or urgent requirements.