LA Times; By: Cyndia Zwahlen

Though U.S. consumers can look forward to some relief under the credit card reform bill signed into law last week by President Obama, small-business owners may not be so lucky.

Congress is reining in the penalties that banks can levy on their riskiest borrowers. Card issuers stand to lose billions in revenue. They may seek to make it up from other plastic-wielding customers by raising interest rates, scaling back rewards and imposing annual fees. Small-business cardholders could be prime targets.

"It's no secret that [banks] are hurting and looking for any source" of revenue, said Molly Brogan, spokeswoman for the National Small Business Assn., based in Washington.

The new law, which shields consumers from predatory fees and sudden rate hikes, doesn't include customers holding credit cards backed by their companies. An amendment that would have extended the protections to cardholders whose businesses have fewer than 50 employees was killed before the final bill was voted on.

Amendment author Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.), chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, hasn't given up on winning the changes for small firms.

"We will look into other legislative vehicles," said Scott Schneider, committee spokesman.

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