Though Personal at Their Core, Small Biz Credit Cards Enjoy Few Consumer Protections

June 26, 2013
Opposing Views  
credit card news

Small-business credit cards often do not enjoy the same account holder protections as their general-consumer counterparts, and they also are not covered under the Credit CARD Act of 2009. There is no fundamental difference between small-business cards and “normal” credit cards. Their exclusion from the law is due to politicians' wish to give card issuers another revenue stream, since new consumer regulations removed many alternatives, explains Dr. Peter Nigro, Sarkisian Chair in Financial Services at Bryant University. This gives small-business cards the freedom to raise interest rates on existing balances for little reason and the ability to charge interest based on average account balances over the past two months, instead of just the current billing period. These cards also can employ practices whereby payments for multiple balances are attributed to the least expensive debt until it is paid off as well as change key account terms without 45 days’ notice. "In other words," writes CardHub CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou, "the issuers were allowed to retain sneaky and unfair practices that enable them to milk small business owners for all they are worth." One good thing, according to a recent CardHub study, is that the major companies that issue small-business cards have proactively banned so-called double-cycle billing. Others have voluntarily adopted the CARD Act rule requiring 45 days’ notice of important changes to account terms, and some have implemented payment allocation rules dictating that the amount of a payment above the minimum must be attributed to the balance with the highest interest rate. However, only one -- Bank of America -- has adhering to CARD Act language guaranteeing that interest rates on existing balances will not change unless the customer is 60 days delinquent or a promotional term expires.
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