Why Do I Get So Many Credit Card Offers In The Mail & How Can I Stop Them?
Credit card companies send these tempting prescreened, or pre-approved, offers to consumers who meet certain criteria. Generally speaking, companies are looking for potential customers with a certain credit score.
Since direct mail is so successful in attracting new credit card applicants, card issuers buy consumer names and addresses from businesses and non-profit agencies. You may end up on one of these lists when you sign a mortgage, donate money to a charity or subscribe to a magazine.
Credit bureaus also sell names and addresses to lenders. While a credit bureau will not release your specific information, they provide credit card companies with a list of names based on certain characteristics.
These prescreened offers do not hurt your credit score because they do not show up as “inquiries” on your report, but they can be annoying. If you no longer wish to receive these offers, you have a few options.
If you would like to opt out of new credit card offers for five years, you can call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit www.optoutprescreen.com.
If you would like to opt out permanently, you can begin the process online, but to complete the request, you have to mail the signed Permanent Opt-Out Election form.
When you call or visit the website, you need to provide your name, telephone number, Social Security number and birth date. This information will be kept confidential and will only be used to process your request.
Credit Reporting Agencies
You also have the option of sending a written request to each of the major consumer credit bureaus. In your request, make sure you include your name, home telephone number, Social Security number and date of birth.
P.O. Box 919
Allen, TX 75013
Name Removal Option
P.O. Box 505
Woodlyn, PA 19094
P.O. Box 740123
Atlanta, GA 30374-0123
Innovis Consumer Assistance
P.O. Box 495
Pittsburgh, PA 15230-0495
The Direct Marketing Association (DMA)
The DMA does not deal specifically with credit card companies, but it does let you opt out of receiving unsolicited commercial mail for a period of five years. When you register, you will be put on a “delete” file. However, your registration won’t stop mailings from organizations that don’t use the DMA’s Mail Preference Service. If you would like to register, visit www.dmachoice.org.
Considering an Offer?
Before accepting any offer, make sure you do the following:
- Read the fine print. 0% is probably written in bold at the top of the letter, but this is the introductory rate. Make sure you know the standard APR, as that is what you will be paying when the introductory period is over.
- Pay attention to the length of the promotional period, and compare the offer you received in the mail with other cards.
- Don’t assume the promotional offer is the best rate you can get. If you carry a balance each month, you want the lowest interest rate possible.
- Most credit cards charge a balance transfer fee, which is usually 3%. Calculate whether the up-front fee will be more or less than the interest penalties you’ll be saving during the introductory period.
- You should pay careful attention to the fine print of any “blank checks” or “convenience checks” you receive with your credit card statement. When you use these, the transaction is generally considered a cash advance, so it may be subject to up-front fees and higher interest rates.