Mass Dems Offer Credit Card

Paying with plastic can earn you everything from airline miles to gasoline. Now some Massachusetts Democrats can also contribute to the party every time they use their credit cards.

The state Democratic organization is promoting a new Mastercard (search) that returns a half-cent to the party for every dollar charged.

Officials said that except for a failed attempt in Iowa 20 years ago, this is the first such credit card with ties to a political party.

The Michigan Democratic Party is rolling out a similar card, and the Democratic National Committee (search) offers a slightly different version, which lets users earn reward points for merchandise faster in return for donations.

Massachusetts Republicans considered a card but decided it wasn't for them. Too much paperwork, and not necessarily an image they want.

"The last thing we would want is to have our name on those cards. People get credit cards, they overspend, they've got creditors calling," said GOP state executive director Dominick Ianno.

Credit card companies have developed plastic to appeal to almost every conceivable demographic - NASCAR (search) fans, duck hunters, alumni of Almost Anywhere U.

About 40 percent of all Visa and MasterCard issuers offer rewards programs. The industry says specialized cards have been used to channel hundreds of millions of dollars to charity.

Juniper Bank of Delaware created "The Victory Card" (search) for the Massachusetts party. Mark DiSalvo, a member of the state Democratic committee, said it took him six years to find a card company willing to negotiate the tangled web of campaign finance reporting laws a party card would entail.

In addition to the penny on every $2 spent, the Massachusetts state party also gets $40 when a new user signs up, and gives 25 percent of proceeds to local party chapters.

Party loyalists have been testing it out in recent months, and a mailing pitch to 6,500 Democrats is about to get under way.

"I think it's a painless way to support the party," said Jean Moulton, 72, a volunteer working for Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign in Boston who cut up her other credit cards. "I thought, even if it was small, as a widow living on Social Security, this was a way I could do it."