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Beware That New Credit-Card Offer

Beware That New Credit-Card Offer

By JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG

Amid all the junk mail pouring into your house in recent months, you might have noticed a solicitation or two for a “professional card,” otherwise known as a small-business or corporate credit card.

If so, watch out. While Capital One Financial Corp.’s World MasterCard, Citigroup Inc.’s Citibank CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Mastercard and the others might look like typical plastic, they are anything but.

Until recently professional cards largely had been reserved for small-business owners or corporate executives. But since the Card Act was passed in March 2009, companies have been inundating ordinary consumers with applications. In the first quarter of 2010, issuers mailed out 47 million professional offers, a 256% increase from the same period last year, according to research firm Synovate.Professional cards aren’t covered under the Credit Card Accountability and Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, or Card Act for short. Among other things, the law prohibits issuers from controversial billing practices such as hair-trigger interest rate increases, shortened payment cycles and inactivity fees—but it doesn’t apply to professional cards (see table).

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704913704575454003924920386.html?mod=WSJ_hps_sections_personalfinance

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