As potential buyers kick the tires of a few big credit card portfolios on the block, the issuers' private-label card operations for the first time in years could be an advantage, instead of a drag, thanks to changes in the economy and in industry regulations.

Private-label cards tied to retailers typically are rife with riskier customers with lower credit scores, which was a negative in the years leading up to the economic downturn when many card issuers shed private-label operations.

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