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Credit cards offers slide

By Janna Herron ·
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Posted: 3 pm ET

Credit card companies again saved on postage in April.

Banks and other issuers mailed out a third fewer credit card offers in April -- 260 million -- compared with the same month last year, according to a report Tuesday from Mintel Comperemedia.

That's less than one offer per American (U.S. population is under 314 million). It also marked the lowest monthly volume in more than two years and continues a moderation in mailings that started in December.

"Issuers have adopted a more cautious approach due to an uncertain economic environment," says Andrew Davidson, senior vice president at Mintel. "The latest downturn likely reflects a pause in activity rather than signifying a permanent reduction in direct mail."

Online and social media advertising didn't show any slack in April, the report notes. And Davidson says the drop-off in mailings is an opportunity for issuers to grab new cardholders because their offerings won't get lost in the clutter as much.

The slowdown in mailed offers comes as more Americans keep their credit cards tucked in their wallets. U.S. consumers reduced credit card balances by $3.4 billion in April, according to the Federal Reserve's latest figures on consumer borrowing. That was the first time credit card debt fell this year and coincides with a slowdown in new jobs.

Businesses added just 69,000 jobs in May, the smallest number in 12 months, and 77,000 jobs in April.

Economists worry the recent reluctance to charge reflects a less confident U.S. consumer and could hurt economic growth. But macro view aside, trimming debt is always good for personal finances.

Are you getting credit card offers? Are you cooling your card spending? Let me know.

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron

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Alex Johnson | Zoot Enterprises
June 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm

It would be interesting to see how other kinds of offers fared in April. More banks have started to use electronic and in-person channels to make offers and this is done for a few reasons. First, postage is expensive, and second, many electronic systems today can make personalized offers in realtime when the consumer contacts the bank. Because the bank already has a relationship with the customer, they have the ability to make personalized offers rather than generic offers that are mailed to everyone that fits a certain set of criteria. I recently wrote a blog post about targeted cross-sell offers that explains how and why banks should focus on personalized offers and the benefits that can be received by both the consumer and the bank.

The OC
June 13, 2012 at 1:14 am

Yes I recently got several cc offers in the mail. I applied a couple and got the cards with one week. I was surprised that they did it so fast.