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H&R BLOCK TESTS LOW-RATE CREDIT CARD IN SELECT MARKETS

 KANSAS CITY, Mo., March 4 /PRNewswire/ -- H&R Block Inc., the nation's largest preparer of individual income tax returns, has thrown its hat into the credit card ring by announcing plans to test a new, low-rate MasterCard specially designed for H&R Block customers.
 The "H&R Block ValueCard" features a $9 annual fee and a market- based annual percentage rate equivalent to the prime rate plus 9.9 percent. At today's prime rate, the H&R Block ValueCards' rate would be 15.9 percent (APR). With this variable rate feature, cardholders won't be stuck with a high APR when rates are low. According to industry figures, the average credit card holder pays $18 to $20 in annual fees and 18 percent in finance charges, which illustrates the value of the ValueCard.
 One attractive benefit of the ValueCard is a rebate program called "BlockBucks" that allows H&R Block customers to save at tax time by earning up to a 1 percent rebate on all purchases. Under the "BlockBucks" program, for every $500 worth of credit-card purchases made during the year, $5 in credit is earned toward income tax preparation services at any participating H&R Block or Executive Tax Service office. There is no limit to the amount of the rebate, and it can be used by any member of the cardholder's immediate family.
 The ValueCard is being made available this month at H&R Block locations in Missouri and in 13 other states, said William P. Anderson, vice president, corporate development and chief financial officer, H&R Block.
 "We're pleased to offer a credit card with so many valuable features and benefits," Anderson said. "There are many cards out there, but we believe the new H&R Block ValueCard will make a real difference in helping our clients manage their personal finances."
 Initially, Anderson said, the company is putting ValueCard applications at H&R Block locations in test markets such as Atlanta, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Memphis, New Orleans, St. Louis, Phoenix and Washington, D.C.
 H&R Block ValueCard holders can use the card for a cash advance at any of 200,000 financial institutions, or 24-hours a day at thousands of ATM machines located across the United States and around the world. Other ValueCard features include free convenience checks so cardholders can access their credit lines when it's easier or necessary to write a check instead of using a credit card, and a no-interest option in which the cardholder can avoid paying any interest at all on purchases whenever the full balance owed is paid within the 25-day grace period.
 A secured H&R Block ValueCard also will be offered for customers who do not have established credit, or who have had difficulty in obtaining a credit card, and would like to begin establishing a good credit rating. Holders of the secured ValueCard must simply make a deposit equal to the credit limit they seek.
 With the secured H&R Block ValueCard, cardholders will be offered the option of having their deposits funded by electronic refunds of their income taxes. Secured customers will earn 3.5 percent on their deposits. They may establish credit lines from $500 to $5,000.
 "H&R Block is a name people trust," said Michael Auriemma, with the Auriemma Consulting Group in Westbury, N.Y., a management consulting firm specializing in the credit card industry. "They have a strong consumer product and they are coming out with a value card that is attractively priced, with low rates and a very low annual membership fee. The secured product is the best secured card value in America today," he said.
 To receive an application for the new ValueCard, call H&R Block in Kansas City at 800-869-9220, ext. 132.
 Headquartered in Kansas City, H&R Block is the nation's largest provider of taxpayer services, serving approximately 18.2 million taxpayers worldwide in 1992. H&R Block's subsidiaries include CompuServe Inc., a computer communications, information services and software company headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, and INTERIM Services Inc., a temporary help company headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
 -0- 3/4/93
 /CONTACT: William P. Anderson of H&R Block, 816-932-8414/


CO: H&R Block Inc. ST: Missouri IN: SU: PDT

BB -- DV004 -- 3184 03/04/93 17:10 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 4, 1993
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