This week I received a credit card offer in the mail and the sign-up bonus was twice what is advertised on the card issuer's website for double the spending requirement.
I could get 50,000 rewards points after spending $1,000 in the first three months of the card's opening. On the website, the sign-up incentive is 25,000 rewards points after spending $2,000 in the first three months. What gives?
It turns out that credit card issuers never have just one offer out there, says Bill McCracken, president of Synergistics Research Corp. in Atlanta, a market research firm for financial institutions. The website offer is the general offer, but they personalize mail offers to consumers who they want to sign up for their card.
Typically, the card companies already have pre-screened consumers who receive these personalized offers in the mail and they probably have higher credit scores, says McCracken. The website offer is for people with an average credit score, he says.
He advises consumers with good credit scores to never accept offers on an issuer's website or in a general advertisement. Instead, they should contact the issuer directly and see if they can get a better deal based on their credit score.
"It never hurts to ask," says McCracken. "All it takes is a few minutes of your time."
McCracken also cautions consumers against jumping at personalized credit card offers without researching the card first. Make sure the rewards program takes advantage of your spending habits and more than compensates for any annual fee. Otherwise, the card may not worth it, despite the personalized offer and sign-up bonus.
Have you compared your credit card offers to what's on the issuer's website? What have you found?
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