Financial Planning | Leadership / Management | Legislative / Regulatory

Credit cards: Lifeboats for small businesses?

Card If you think President Obama's bid to reform credit card interest rates, penalties and fees will impact only individual consumers, think again.

A report from the National Small Business Association shows that credit card use among America's small businesses is soaring. Fifty-nine percent of small-business respondents have used credit cards in the past 12 months to finance their business, up from 49 percent in December 2008. That increase comes at a time when 75 percent of small businesses say their credit-card terms have worsened in the last six months.

The problem shows exactly how far-reaching the economic downturn has become. Consumers are spending less, leaving small businesses with less cash on hand. That forces businesses to use their credit cards to keep things humming ... and at a time when credit-card terms are worsening.

It's even more daunting for people who are thinking of starting a small business.

"In previous recessions, economic recovery has been led by the creation of millions of new small businesses," the NSBA writes. "Unfortunately, today’s entrepreneurs — unlike those of past recessions — are severely limited in their ability to finance a new business by leveraging the value of their home, borrowing from friends and family, or securing a traditional loan. This leaves one clear, often unattractive, option: credit cards."

Not surprisingly, the NSBA supports efforts to reform credit card rates and fees.

Do you?


Bill Sheridan