Continued from page 2

“Some of the more vulnerable parts of the population are a little bit more protected,” said Georgetown University finance professor James Angel. But he predicts card companies will find ways around most of the new restrictions. And once the economy recovers, he expects the lending spigot to open again.

In the meantime, there is one group of consumers that banks will chase after — those who carry a balance from month to month for at least part of the year, and pay their bills on time. They’re the most profitable and least risky group for banks.

Also a target customer: anyone willing to do more business with the bank that issues their card, say opening a checking or savings account or taking out a mortgage.

“What we want is a deeper relationship with our customers,” said Andy Rowe, an executive vice president with Bank of America’s card business. Customers willing to stick with a single bank may even be able to get annual fees waived or get a better interest rate, he said. “That’s where the competition will be.”