Visa U.S.A is offering a package of incentives to small-business credit card users that include discounts on Kinko's copying and Motorola paging services.
Though such incentives are frequently tied to consumer credit cards, the perks are becoming more common for small-business credit cards.
"This leverages the successes our consumer programs have had," said Tracy Connelly, Visa U.S.A vice president.
Only a smattering of banking companies, including Wells Fargo & Co. and First Union Corp., let small-business owners accumulate airline frequent- flier miles using their business credit cards.
Ms. Connelly said discounts are a tool to help Visa retain customers rather than attract new ones, and to encourage use of their cards. "They show a very tangible savings and help the small-business owner justify why they use the card," Ms. Connelly said.
Visa promotes the perks in pamphlets that accompany small-business owners' bills. In addition to copier and paging services, Visa offers discounts on videotapes, a small-business service on the World Wide Web, a service that provides over-the-phone help with computer problems, and hotels.
Ms. Connelly said holders of small-business cards find the discount promotions more acceptable than do the card issuers.
Some banks are reluctant to stuff their customers' credit card bills with the promotions, she said. About half of Visa business cardholders get the inserts.
Visa offers discounts on different products or business services each quarter but plans to develop longer-term relationships with other companies that serve entrepreneurs, Ms. Connelly said.
Though the market for small-business credit cards is smaller than the consumer credit card market, it is growing at a faster rate and fueling increased competition for customers.
Visa's expansion of its small-business products follows American Express' effort to sell credit, accounting, and employee benefits to small businesses.
"It's going to be an increasing trend as companies try to differentiate themselves from the pack," said Les Dinkin, managing principal of NBW Consulting Group in Westport, Conn.
Two of American Express' Corporate Cards, which are designed for small businesses, offer discounts on purchases at United Parcel Services, Hilton Hotels, and Hertz car-rental offices.