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Staples and U.S. Bank Launch Visa Business Card for Small Businesses

Unique Business Card Helps Small Businesses Gain Access to Credit, Shop Online and Earn Valuable Rewards - Without Paying an Annual Fee

Tuesday, February 15, 2000 7:00 am EST

Dateline:

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.

Public Company Information:

NASDAQ:
SPLS
"U.S. Bank is pleased to partner with Staples to offer this exciting new credit card for small business owners"

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Staples Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLS) today announced a major initiative to provide small businesses access to the credit they need to grow their businesses. Staples, in partnership with U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB), has launched a Visa Business Card, the first such credit card offered by an office supplies retailer and one of the only business cards to offer rewards with no annual fee.

"Business credit cards open up a world of purchasing possibilities for small business owners," said Bob Moore, executive vice president of marketing for Staples. "With more than two million new businesses started each year and online purchasing on the rise, there is an ever-increasing demand for this type of payment solution. We continually seek to respond to the needs of small business professionals and have designed the Staples Visa Business Card with their day-to-day retail and online purchasing needs in mind."

According to a recent National Small Business United and Arthur Anderson survey (November 1999), 47 percent of small business owners said they used credit cards to help finance their operations - up from 34 percent in 1997. This card allows a small business to build credit in the name of their business and accrue rewards with every purchase.

"We're thrilled to be a part of this initiative with Staples and U.S. Bank to support the enhancement of small business," said Mike Souza, vice president of small business products and services for Visa U.S.A. "This card offers the acceptance consumers rely on in addition to giving them access to crucial resources to help get their businesses off the ground or running more efficiently."

"U.S. Bank is pleased to partner with Staples to offer this exciting new credit card for small business owners," said Daniel Frate, president of Payment Systems for U.S. Bancorp. "We are the number one issuer of Visa small business cards in terms of sales volume and number of cards issued. We used our expertise to help develop a value-added card that we believe Staples customers will really find beneficial."

The Staples Visa Business Card offers a convenient way to finance all business purchases made online or in retail stores. Created with input from Staples' small business customers, the card has a credit limit up to $50,000 and is structured around the five most important features small business owners cited when choosing and using a credit card for their business:

--No annual fee

--Rewards towards free Staples products and travel services

--Rebates through the Staples Dividend$ program

--A lower interest rate on purchases over $1,000

--Quarterly and annual management reports detailing and organizing all expenses.

With every dollar charged on the Staples Visa Business Card -- at Staples or anywhere else Visa is accepted -- cardholders will earn points redeemable for free Staples products and services, free airline tickets, restaurant and movie certificates, hotel accommodations and rental car services. The points are accrued at the company level and can be used by the business or gifted to employees or customers. Customers can apply for the Staples Visa Business Card in-store, by phone (1-877-625-5249) or online on Staples.com.

Nationwide rollout and marketing of the Staples Visa Business Card is underway in all 840 U.S. stores. Card applications will be available online at Staples.com beginning March 1.

Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB), with $82 billion in assets, is the 12th largest bank holding company in the nation and operates approximately 1,000 banking offices in the Midwest and West. The company provides comprehensive banking, trust, investment and payment systems products and services to consumers, businesses and institutions. It operates a network of 5,300 ATMs and provides 24-hour, seven-days-a-week telephone customer service. The company offers full-service brokerage services at approximately 100 offices through U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray. The company is the largest provider of Visa corporate and purchasing cards in the world, and is one of the largest providers of corporate trust services in the nation. For further information, please see the U.S. Bancorp web site at www.usbank.com.

Visa is the leading card brand and the largest payment system worldwide. It plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions, their cardholders and the global economy. Visa is the only consumer payment system to facilitate $1.4 trillion worth of purchases of goods and services in a fiscal year. Visa's more than 600 million cards are accepted at more than 17 million worldwide locations including more than 500,000 ATMs in the Visa/PLUS Global ATM Network. Visa's Internet address is www.visa.com.

Staples Inc. is a $7 billion retailer of office supplies, furniture and technology to consumers and businesses from home-based businesses to Fortune 500 companies in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal. Headquartered outside Boston, Staples invented the office superstore concept and today is the largest operator of office superstores in the world. The company has over 46,000 employees serving customers through more than 1,100 office superstores, mail order catalogs, e-commerce and a contract business. More information about the company is available at http://www.staples.com.

Contact:

Staples, Inc.
Christina Erridge, 508/253-7375
christina.erridge@staples.com
or
Ketchum for Visa U.S.A
Gretchen Lawler, 212/448-4360 g
retchen.lawler@ketchum.com
or
U.S. Bank
Samantha Levine, 612/973-4594
samantha.levine@usbank.com

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