TAMPA - Despite extensive efforts by credit card issuers to get small-business owners to shop for credit online, few are actually using the Internet for this purpose, according to a study by PSI Global.

According to the PSI Global survey of 876 small businesses with annual sales of $500,000 to $9.9 million, less than 1% of small businesses apply for credit online, and only 2% use the Internet to do research on credit options.

The number of businesses that said their relationship with a loan officer was the primary reason for choosing a lender doubled in the last year, according to PSI Global, a market research firm owned by NFO Worldwide Co.

In other findings, 66% of small businesses said they apply for credit in person, and 9% apply over the telephone; 44% said they get information about credit rates and fees in person, and 22% said they use the phone.

"So far, small businesses' use of the Internet to obtain credit from the new dot-com credit providers is largely hype," said Roger Swales, president and chief executive officer of PSI Global. "Not only are small businesses sticking with traditional providers, the high-touch aspect of obtaining credit actually appears to be increasing in importance."

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