Advanta Corp., which left the retail credit card business with fanfare this year by selling its portfolio to Fleet Financial Group, is springing back to life-in business cards.
The Spring House, Pa., company was the eighth-largest credit card issuer until February, when it sold its $10.5 billion consumer portfolio.
But Advanta quietly retained its business card unit. And recently it started up an interactive Web site to add to the 300,000 small businesses already using its card.
The site provides access to information that companies need to review quarterly for tax and accounting purposes.
Cardholders can print out reports and download the information into financial management programs.
Customers had asked for the service, Advanta said.
"Delivering reports over the Internet provides ease of access, speed, and flexibility unmatched by traditional reports printed and mailed to business cardholders," said Peter Smyth, director of strategic operations for business cards at Advanta Business Services.
The unit, which issues the corporate cards, is based in Salt Lake City.
In addition to attracting new accounts, Internet services will help in handling them, Mr. Smyth said.
In addition, not having to send out some paper reports will mean savings on that side.
Leslie A. Nelkin, managing director at ING Baring Furman Selz LLC in New York, said Advanta kept its business card portfolio to complement its business equipment leasing unit. Those businesses manage $1.5 billion of assets, he said. That is about 15% of Advanta's total managed assets.
Advanta has done a good job of incorporating technology in its financial services programs, Mr. Nelkin said. "They have done a lot of work to make sure they have state-of-the-art equipment."
Mr. Smyth said the next step for its Internet site is to duplicate the customer service department on-line. This should be achieved by December, he said.
"We are planning on a good portion of call traffic going over to the Internet," Mr. Smyth said.
"The small-businessperson doesn't always have the luxury of being able to look at reports or contact customer service for account information during regular business hours."
First Data Direct Banking, a Los Angeles-based unit of First Data Corp., is building the customer service site and will maintain it, Mr. Smyth said.