<p>WEST PALM BEACH – Creativity and diversity seem to be this year’s buzz words for the competition. Products and advertising campaigns are being given a fresh makeover as new bonds are formed. Here is a glimpse at what the competition has planned this year: PNC Bank has entered into an agreement with The Pennsylvania State University to operate six additional ATMs on the school’s University Park campus and one at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. The seven ATMs, formerly owned and operated by another financial institution, were transferred to PNC Bank ownership at the end of January. Through its University Banking program, PNC Bank offers the Student Plan, a package of accounts and other services for students that includes a checking account with no minimum balance requirement or monthly service charge and a free PNC Bank check card that can be used with no transaction fees at more than 3,200 PNC Bank ATMs. The Student Plan is currently available to Penn State students. PNC Bank also offers Penn State faculty and staff WorkPlace Banking, a program of financial services and products, including a checking account with no minimum balance requirement or monthly service charge and discounts on loans Evolution Health, WildCard Systems and South Dakota-based BANKFIRST have teamed up to offer a stored-value MasterCard linked to health care flexible spending accounts. With the “BennyCard”, co-payments or other qualified expenses are paid in real-time by automatically deducting the transaction from the FSA account. FSAs allow employees to use their own payroll funds on a pre-tax basis to pay for out-of-pocket health care costs. The BennyCard can be branded with the company’s logo and cardholders can view transaction history and monitor their balance on the BennyCard Web site. MBNA and the PGA Tour have signed a long-term marketing agreement under which MBNA will issue PGA Tour- and Senior PGA Tour-branded MasterCard credit cards. Metris Companies Inc. has entered into an affinity credit card agreement with Cendant Corporation to issue the Elite Rewards MasterCard. Starting in April, cardmembers will earn one point for every dollar spent anywhere MasterCard is accepted. Additional bonus points are earned when cards are used at any one of 17 Bonus Point Partners. Some Cendant subsidiaries and bonus point partners participating in the rewards program include Days Inn, Avis, Howard Johnson, Knights Inn, Super 8, Travelodge, Villager Lodge and Wingate Inns. Points can be redeemed for airline tickets on airlines, hotel stays, car rentals, gift certificates and specific merchandise rewards. Points will accumulate automatically with each card purchase and will appear on quarterly account statements. ING Direct has marked its one-year anniversary by sailing a full-scale replica of a 16th century Dutch ship from its Wilmington, Delaware headquarters to New York and back. At each stop along the way, the ship was opened to the public for tours. The ship attracted free publicity and generated media coverage as it hammered home the ING Direct brand. ING Direct has used all sorts of events, from sporting events to street festivals, to build awareness of ING Direct. FleetBoston Financial has launched a Small Business Value Package. In addition to traditional transaction capabilities, the Value Package includes access to payroll services, merchant credit card services, and special rewards programs. It is being touted as a “relationship product”. Fleet has tested the product in three markets Long Island, N.Y.; Westchester County, N.Y., and Providence, R.I., resulting in more than 900 accounts opened during the 10-week pilot. Fleet will promote the new product through media advertising, direct marketing, and in-branch promotions. The product’s rollout is part of Fleet’s larger corporate initiative to focus on organic growth in its marketplace and to aggressively build new revenues. People’s Bank latest advertising campaign belies its belief in the people of Connecticut and delivers an upbeat “can-do” message with its positioning line, “It’s Possible. At People’s.” Ads in the new campaign, which will include outdoor, print and broadcast advertising, will capture positive life moments and demonstrate that People’s has the expertise, products and services to help them reach all of their financial goals. The campaign will also highlight the bank’s competitive differentiator – its seven-day branch network inside Super Stop & Shop stores. Consumers who use American Express cards to pay their personal or state income tax can earn reward points or miles. In addition to Membership Rewards enrollees, rewards are available on the Delta SkyMiles, Hilton HHonors Platinum, and Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards. Taxpayers in 21 states have the option of paying their state taxes on their American Express card including Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Taxpayers who pay with plastic will be charged a convenience fee based on the size of their tax bill that is set and collected by the payment processor. Again this year, taxpayers paying with plastic will have the option of paying any balance due on their taxes (Form 1040), requesting an extension of time to file (Form 4868) or paying their estimated taxes (Form 1040-ES). Nationwide Financial and SunTrust Banks, Inc have formed a partnership to develop, market and service retirement plans to SunTrust’s small business and commercial customers. The program specifically targets companies developing new retirement plans or those companies whose existing plans have $2 million or less in assets. The BEST of AMERICA Retirement Resource program offered through SunTrust Securities includes a fund selection consisting of 45 funds selected from strategic money managers including 10 funds from the STI Classic Funds. To assist in communicating retirement plan options and information, a new co- branded Web site, www.SunTrust.BestofAmerica.com, has been created, along with co-branded marketing materials and service support.</p>

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