Banks are forever introducing "new" -- indistinguishable from the "old" -- variations on corporate credit cards. Here's one worth noting: a relocation card recently unveiled by First Bank System of Minneapolis.

A corporate client of that bank had complained that relocations were becoming too pricey, and that so many moves turned into paperwork nightmares. "We thought we could solve that with a special card employers could issue to staffers for a limited time period for the sole purpose of covering the expenses of a relocation. It would be similar to our Visa card," explains Jim Baumgartner, a senior vice-president.

The specialized card is effective because it sets --

· Financial limits. The employer establishes limits both for the corporation's overall relocation costs and for each individual. "That means if the company wants to authorize higher expenditures for executives than for lower-level staffers, those limits can be built into each person's individual charge card," says Baumgartner.

· Comprehensive spending categories. Authorized expenditures can include every possible relocation cost, including actual moving expenses as well as airfare, temporary hotel stays, and cash advances. Baumgartner explains, "You've got the best chance of controlling paperwork for tax and other purposes if all expenditures are kept on one card."

· Time limits. So that employees aren't tempted to incur additional "relocation" costs after they've already moved, the cards' duration can be set by the company when it orders them.

First Bank System will initially issue its relocation card only to companies with plans to relocate at least 50 employees, who will charge a total minimum of $1 million worth of expenses. But Baumgartner advises companies that don't qualify for his bank's card to approach local bankers with a similar plan. "You may be able to arrange for a new corporate credit card that will cover only the costs of a relocation."