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4 trends in credit card mail

By Lucy Lazarony ·
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Posted: 10 am ET

Finding more credit card offers in your mailbox?

You're not alone.

Credit card mailings have increased dramatically, according to a recent study by Mintel Comperemedia, a marketing research firm based in Chicago.

According to Mintel Comperemedia, American consumers received about 1.4 billion offers for new credit cards in the fourth quarter of 2010, a hefty increase from the 551 million card offers mailed in the fourth quarter of 2009.

To stand out in the crowd of card mailings, some credit card issuers are waiving balance transfer fees, dropping foreign transaction fees, extending introductory periods for teaser rates and lowering interest rates, according to Mintel Comperemedia.

Waiving balance transfer fees. The mean fee on introductory balance transfer offers was 3.06 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010. But some credit card issuers have been waiving balance transfer fees to gain a competitive advantage, according to Andrew Davidson, senior vice president at Comperemedia.

According to a study on credit card fees, 15 bank credit cards and 25 credit union credit cards do not charge a fee to transfer a balance.

Dropping foreign transaction fees. The bulk of mailed card offers still carry a 3 percent fee on foreign transactions. But in a quest for premium cardholders, card issuers such as Chase, Citibank and HSBC are waiving foreign transaction fees on some of their cards, according to Mintel Comperemedia.

Extending teaser rates. Most mailed credit card offers promote an introductory APR for balance transfers and purchases and some are even promoting a zero-percent teaser rate, according to Mintel Comperemedia. In the fourth quarter of 2010, 58 percent of balance-transfer offers promoted a teaser rate of 13 months or more.

"The squeeze on credit observed during mid-2009 is being reversed and many issuers are now offering durations of 15, 17 or 18 months or more," Davidson says. "We have even seen offers with 24- and 30-month intro rate durations in recent months."

Lowering interest rates. Overall, the credit card industry responded to the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure, or CARD, Act by raising APRs on purchases, according to Mintel Comperemedia. But in 2010, credit card APRs stabilized.

In the fourth quarter of 2010, the mean APR for purchases on variable rate card offers was 14.03 percent, which is comparable to the 14.02 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009.

"Variable APRs have stabilized during the past year," Davidson says. "However, the spread between the mean variable APR and prime rate has widened considerably since the start of the recession. Some issuers are bucking this trend by promoting APRs that are below the mean in order to take advantage of the high rate environment."

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April 08, 2011 at 8:52 pm

This is a serious problem that the nation needs to be sensitize on. There are serious issues with holding a credit card debt in the current economic climate and just pushing more debts on the people doesn't solve the issue.