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American Telephone & Telegraph Co., emboldened by its highly successful foray into the credit card business, extended the free-for-life membership offer by three months Tuesday to attract additional customers.

Eight months ago, AT&T launched the Universal Card, a Visa or MasterCard that doubles as a long-distance calling card. To attract members, AT&T said those who signed up by Dec. 31 would never pay an annual fee for the rest of their lives, as long as they used the card once a year to buy something.

Since then nearly 7 million cards have been distributed, making AT&T one of the country's biggest credit card issuer. On Tuesday, the company extended the signup deadline until March 26, 1991, the anniversary of the card.

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