To promote its small-business credit card, Visa U.S.A. will develop educational materials for the Service Corps of Retired Executives.

Score is a nonprofit group with 389 chapters nationwide where volunteers provide free counseling on starting and managing a small business.

"Our biggest challenge is to create awareness," said Michael S. Rodriguez, director of Visa business card commercial products. "Not a lot of business owners know we have a small-business card."

The partnership with Score is also part of an effort to draw customers away from rival American Express, which aggressively promotes its small- business credit card.

"For a long time, American Express has completely dominated the small- business card market," said Stanley Anderson, president of Anderson & Associates in Arvada, Colo. "Visa and Mastercard have both made a strong push."

The small-business credit card market has exploded in the last year with giants such as AT&T Universal Cards offering credit cards by direct mail.

"American Express continues to see some growth, but it's been more modest compared to what Visa and Mastercard are experiencing," Mr. Anderson said.

Visa will also link its Internet web site to one started by Score and will provide on-line information about finding capital, separating business and personal finances and obtaining a loan.

The Visa web site can also link entrepreneurs to web sites for banks in their area that issue small-business credit cards.

Visa plans to provide how-to brochures and informational packets to Score chapters this fall. The literature will have both Visa and Score logos on it.

"Almost every week we have requests from banks that want to get into small business," Mr. Rodriguez said. "It's a huge economic force."

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