Shelton-based William Raveis Real Estate & Home Services, whose Wethersfield office is shown above, has established a partnership with MBNA Corp. to offer a new American Express card that helps cardholders pay their mortgages.

Points for travel, gas and cash rewards have long been gimmicks to lure people to credit cards. But until now, most real estate companies have not gotten into the credit card game.

That all changed when Shelton-based William Raveis Real Estate & Home Services announced last week it has established a partnership with MBNA Corp. to offer an American Express card that will allow cardholders to – among other rewards – use points they earn for purchases to help pay their mortgages.

The idea first came into being about five years ago, according to William Raveis, chairman and chief executive officer of the company. It fell by the wayside then, but about a year and a half ago, the company decided to resurrect the idea. The hope is that the rewards will encourage holders of the William Raveis Rewards card to stay within the William Raveis family of companies, Raveis said. The company provides mortgage, insurance, real estate and closing/title services.

The cardholders will earn a point for every net retail dollar charged to the card. New cardholders, for the first six months they have the card, will earn 5 points for each net retail dollar they spend at certain home improvement, electronics and home furnishings stores.

That can add up, Raveis said. New homeowners tend to spend thousands of dollars during their first year in a new home on appliances such as washers and dryers and other home improvement needs. The cardholders can use accumulated points to make additional payments on their mortgage. Each increment of 5,000 points will be converted to a value of $50.

Alternatively, the cardholders can redeem points for travel, merchandise, gift cards and cash.

Cardholders also will get points for listing a house, referring a friend to the card or using some of William Raveis Real Estate’s other services.

The company will market the card through its 1,700 sales associates. It started offering the card first to the associates, and so far 900 have signed up, Raveis noted. The next step will be to have sales associates offer the card to customers when they buy a home or get a mortgage from the company.

“We are excited to provide yet another innovative option to our loyal and continuously growing client base by offering our new William Raveis Rewards Card,” Raveis said in a prepared statement. “This card is a smart option for savvy homebuyers who realize the benefit of using a card that provides tangible benefits toward one of their most precious investments – their home. Plus, we are thrilled to announce that every time an account is opened, and every time someone makes a purchase with the card, a donation is made to the William Raveis Breast Cancer Fund at no additional cost to the cardholder.”

The card has no annual fee and the company will give any profits to the breast cancer fund.

“[The card] is unique,” Raveis said.

Cardholders who use the company’s “one-stop shopping” offerings can be eligible for additional points. Those who use William Raveis Mortgage, William Raveis Insurance and Kelsy Title Co. can get 10,000 bonus points. If a cardholder uses the mortgage program and the insurance or title program, they get 5,000 points. Cardholders who use one of those three services, list or sell their home through William Raveis Real Estate & Home Services or refer a customer to the rewards card can get 2,500 points.

The company is touting the card as an additional product that William Raveis Real Estate brings to its customers beyond the assistance of buying and selling a home or property, obtaining a mortgage, insurance, moving services and more.

William Raveis Real Estate & Home Services is New England’s largest privately held, family-owned real estate firm. The firm, whose 2005 sales volume exceeds $5.1 billion, is nationally recognized as an industry leader and describes itself as dedicated to providing an unparalleled real estate experience to its customers. The company has 55 offices in Connecticut and Massachusetts and has future plans to expand into Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.