updated 6/12/2006 7:35:20 AM ET 2006-06-12T11:35:20

Discover Financial Services LLC was introducing on Monday its first credit card for small businesses, aiming to make it easier for owners and their employees to pay their bills.

The Discover Business Card will carry cash-back bonus rewards like those offered on Discover's consumer cards, said Roger C. Hochschild, president and chief operating officer of Discover Financial.

In addition, he said, small businesses will be able to obtain fee-free checks to pay merchants and suppliers who don't accept credit cards. The checks will show up on the small business' monthly card statement and be eligible for rewards, he added.

Small business owners, who can qualify for credit limits of up to $50,000, also will be able to get cards for their employees and customize the limits on them, he said.

"This is a single payment option for businesses that will solve some of the core issues they have and transform the ways small businesses pay for purchases," he said.

Discover Financial, which is based in Riverwoods, Ill., is a business unit of Morgan Stanley, the New York-based investment bank.

Discover is the latest card company to beef up its offerings to the fast-growing small business category. Bank of America, which is headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., recently introduced a free payroll product for its small business customers. Other card issuers have changed award mixes.

Sastry Rachakonda, director of Discover's business card program, noted that just 10 percent of small business spending currently was via credit cards, making it a potentially strong growth market.

He said small business customers will have online account management tools and will get quarterly and annual statements that can be used for tax preparation.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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