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Sotheby's credit card offers museum rewards

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The Wall Street Journal reports that auction house Sotheby's plans to launch two credit cards in the spring of 2007 aimed specifically at wealthy museum goers.  The two MasterCard network reward credit cards offer points that can be redeemed for cash donations to art museums, in addition to goods and services.

Sotheby's credit cards are offered at two levels of service.  The basic credit card is for consumers with an annual income of $100,000 or more, at an annual fee of $85.  The other credit card is invitation-only affair for consumers who earn over $250,000, with an annual fee of $395 and no pre-set spending limit.

For every 10,000 points earned on $10,000 in purchases, a $100 donation can be made to one of 17 U.S. partner museums. These museums include the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, Fla.; the Delaware Art Museum and the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich.  Museum donations are not tax-deductible.

Cardholders will gain free entry to participating museums, invitations to special events, as well as "luxurious privileges" such as travel benefits and preferential restaurant reservations.

Additionally, a Rewards Concierge will be available to help in the selection of rewards from a "vast range of luxury opportunities."  Choices include one-on-one exhibit tours with curators, visits to artist studios, discounted auction catalogs and more.  For those really big spenders, 2.5 million points can be used to book a Sotheby's specialist to conduct a charity event auction.

Sotheby's chief executive explained that the charitable rewards are designed to appeal to potential arts patrons who don't necessarily require rewards points or airline miles.

While it has not routinely accepted credit card payments at major auctions, Sotheby's said it will take its own credit card at auctions "under certain conditions."

Appropriately enough, cardholders will be able to choose from credit card designs that feature paintings by the likes of art greats Frida Kahlo, Claude Monet or Rene Magritte.

Published: May 14, 2007


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