Properties: What’s in your wallet? If your sponsor roster doesn’t include a credit card brand, you may want to consider an up-and-coming rival to American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa.

Revolution Money Inc. is using sponsorship to build visibility and gain new card holders and merchants for its RevolutionCard credit product. The company has deals with the AHL Philadelphia Phantoms; NBA Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers; and NHL Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals.

Revolution Money is a unit of Revolution LLC, a private company launched in ’05 by AOL founder Steve Case. RevolutionCard debuted last year, positioning itself as an alternative to the major credit card brands based on its lower merchant fees and security features such as no user names or account numbers on the cards and the required use of a PIN to authorize purchases.

The company also has plans to link the card to its Revolution MoneyExchange service, a person-to-person money transfer system that is similar to PayPal. The built-in connection to a transfer service would be a first for a credit card brand, according to the company.

Revolution kicked off its sponsorship foray early last year with a tie to Comcast Spectacor, L.P., owner of the Flyers, 76ers and Phantoms. The company was drawn to the deal because it offered both a major new merchant that would accept the card for ticket, merchandise and concession sales, as well as provide a promotional platform to gain new cardholders and generate awareness.

To activate the deal, the Flyers ran a promotion prior to the ’07-’08 season that offered two autographed replica jerseys to consumers who purchased season tickets using the RevolutionCard. The result: Roughly 25 percent of season tickets were purchased using the card, said Joe Croce, Comcast Spectacor’s senior vice president of sales.

The company is repeating the promotion this year, offering two autographed padded chairs with each Flyers season ticket purchase using a RevolutionCard. The 76ers are running the same promotion offering an autographed basketball with one of three player signatures.

To further incent consumers, the company this past season ran an on-site promotion offering a $20 credit for use at Wachovia Center merchandise outlets and concession stands to customers that applied for a card at one of several kiosks at the venue.

RevolutionCard also received presenting status of the 76ers playoff run on the team’s Web site.

Comcast Spectacor was drawn to the partnership in part because of RevolutionCard’s low interchange fees, Croce said. “We saved a ton of money, and we used some of it to create the consumer incentives to keep the program rolling.”

Revolution has lower costs–and thus charges less–because it uses a secure Internet connection to process transactions rather than the proprietary networks used by the major credit card companies. The company charges merchants .05 percent of each transaction, considerably lower than the 2 to 3 percent charged by Visa and MasterCard, Croce said.

To further help RevolutionCard gain traction, Croce is opening doors for the brand with other Flyers, Phantoms and 76ers sponsors.

“That’s a big part of our relationship. We’re introducing them to our sponsors to develop co-branded cards,” he said, adding that AT&T Inc., Acme Markets, Inc. and other companies “are seriously looking at it.” The cards potentially would offer team-themed benefits, he said.

Comcast-Spectacor was able to align with RevolutionCard because the product is not issued by a bank, said Croce, noting that venue titler Wachovia Corp. has exclusivity across the bank category, including credit cards issued by banks.

Prior to the relationship with Revolution, the Flyers and Sixers had a partnership with MBNA Corp., which worked with Wachovia to issue team-themed affinity cards. The team ended that partnership in ’06 following Bank of America Corp.’s acquisition of MBNA.

Other Deals Operate On Same Model
Last September RevolutionCard signed a multiyear deal with the Capitals, a team owned by Ted Leonsis, former vice chairman of AOL and current chairman of Revolution Money.

A replica jersey offer to season ticket buyers resulted in roughly 20 percent of season passes being purchased using the card, said John Greeley, senior director of corporate partnerships with Lincoln Holdings LLC, owner of the Caps and WNBA Washington Mystics.

Dax Cummings, Revolution Money’s COO, inked the deal with Comcast-Spectacor, while Duncan Evans, senior vice president & general manager, retail business, spearheaded the Capitals deal. Officials of the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based company declined to be interviewed.

Washington, D.C.-based Revolution LLC’s other businesses include Revolution Health Group LLC, which offers online medical information and other healthcare services. It also is the largest shareholder of car-sharing company Zipcar, Inc.