As consumers move away from mailing in credit card applications, how banks snag new customers has become much more interactive.
Nearly half of credit applications submitted in the 12 months preceding this June were completed online, the highest level found by Mercator Advisory Group. Only 7 percent applied by mail; 11 percent applied by phone; and 16 percent applied at a bank branch. The remaining 18 percent applied for a store credit card at a retailer.
With numbers like those, issuers have cut back on their direct-mail offerings, since less than 1 percent of consumers even respond and it's an expensive effort, says Michael Misasi, a senior analyst at Mercator. The average consumer is also less passive and seeks out cards rather than waits for direct offers, he says.
"Consumers are beginning to take more initiative in how they shop for credit products, so it is important for issuers to turn website visits into customers," says Misasi.
That's why you may see an online chat box jump up on your screen when you visit a bank website. This is one way to engage you and answer any questions or concerns before you leave the site. In the best-case scenario, the virtual customer service rep directs you to an online application for a card you want.
How did you apply for your last credit card?
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