Holiday Inns Inc., the world's largest hotel chain, has announced it won't accept Gulf Oil Co. credit cards after April 1 because fewer travelers are using them and the service charge is higher than for bank credit cards.

The announcement ends a relationship dating back to 1963, when nationally recognized bank travel and entertainment cards were in their infacy. American Express, Diners or Visa, all of which Holiday Inns accepts, are used widely today, the chain said.

The cost to Holiday Inn for Gulf card services is about 4 percent compared with 1.65 percent for the bank cards.

The Memphis-based hotel chain is under aggressive new management seeking to cut costs and improve profits. Holiday Inns has 1,700 properties in 56 countries.

"It has become apparent that demand for this type of credit is now being met with a variety of types of credit cards honored at all (our) hotels," a statement from Holiday Inns said. It added that the decision was by mutual agreement.

A Gulf spokesman in Houston confirmed this, adding that high interest rates on borrowed money have made it unattractive for Gulf to offer Holiday Inns credit card service at about 4 percent. The service is offered free to Gulf dealers. Holiday Inns is the only nonautomotive business in which the oil company allowed its credit card to be used. Gulf at one time owned a sizable chunk of Holiday Inn stock, but sold it several years ago.