Get Started: Credit protections for small business

NEW YORK (AP) — CREDIT CARD BILL

Small businesses that have credit cards would get the same protections that consumers have under a bill introduced in the House by Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y. The bill, the Small Business Credit Card Act of 2013, would require card companies to notify small businesses before raising interest rates. They would also be prohibited from raising a business card's rate in the first year of the account.

The bill also would end fees and interest charged on debts that are paid on time. It would also end what Lowey called late-fee traps such as payment deadlines that fall on weekends and fees for payments made over the phone and online.

It would also require card companies to apply payments to card balances that have higher interest rates.

The bill would apply to businesses with 50 or fewer employees.

FRANCHISE LOANS SOAR

Small Business Administration-backed loans for franchises soared more than 60 percent in 2012 from the previous year, according to a study released by two trade groups and the Coleman Report, a provider of information about small business.

The SBA guaranteed nearly 3,300 loans totaling more than $3.8 billion for franchises, the report said. That was a 34 percent increase in the number of loans and a 60 percent rise in the dollar value of the loans. The number of SBA loans to buy or improve commercial real estate or purchase equipment rose 67 percent to $2.5 billion.

The franchise brands that received the most SBA loans from 2010-12 were Subway, with 573; Dairy Queen, with 182; Jimmy John's with 176, Dunkin' Donuts with 166 and Anytime Fitness with 154.

The report was released by the International Franchise Association and the National Association of Development Companies in conjunction with Coleman.

WHAT'S A SMALL BUSINESS?

The Small Business Administration has increased the size standards for small businesses in 70 industries, making thousands of additional companies eligible for government loan and contracting programs.

Size standards set the maximum amount of revenue, employees or assets that a company can reach and still be considered a small business. The SBA has been reviewing size standards for all industries. The latest review raised standards for industries in the agriculture, hunting, fishing, forestry, arts, entertainment, recreation, finance, insurance, company management and mining sectors. For example, the maximum revenue theater companies and dinner theaters can generate in a year has been raised to $19 million from $7 million.

More than 17,000 more businesses will be classified as small under the latest size standard revisions. The changes will go into effect July 22.

The size standard review, which was authorized under the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, is expected to continue for the next several years.

HEALTH CARE HELP IN SPANISH

Hispanic small business owners in California can learn more about the health care law and how it will affect them with a new guide written in Spanish, "Solo Los Hechos: La Ley del Cuidado de Salud y su Empresa." You can find it online at www.healthlawguideforbusiness.org/espanol

An English version, "Just The Facts: The Health Care Law & Your Business," is available at www.healthlawguideforbusiness.org/

ONLINE SEMINARS

You can learn how to prepare your small business for a disaster, whether it's fire or a natural disaster, at an online seminar sponsored by SCORE, the organization that provides free counseling to small businesses. It will be held Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET. Register at www1.gotomeeting.com/register/872700176

The SBA is sponsoring a seminar on Wednesday on using mobile marketing, including ads on cellphones. It's at 1 p.m. ET. Register at http://tinyurl.com/mb9sv6l

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