Credit card offers are everywhere! Whether you have excellent credit or poor credit, whether you own your own business or work for someone else, there are multiple credit card offers clamoring for your attention. Sorting through this tangled web of card offers can be a daunting task.
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Direct mail is still a major component of many card companies’ marketing efforts. A thick envelope arrives with your daily mail. On the outside are statements like, “You’re pre-approved! Accept your card today! Open immediately for your new credit card information!”
Often these envelopes contain shiny cardboard facsimile credit cards, with your name embossed in bold letters. “Call this number now!” or “Visit our website and enter this confirmation number for your instant approval!” the letter inside demands.
The fine print on the enclosed letter/flyer/brochure spells out the terms of these offers; card interest rates, limits, fees, legal disclosures and other required information.
Are these offers real?
They are as real as rain! They are also targeted directly at you, based on your credit profile! Banks and other card issuers have access to credit bureau data, which allows them to match their offers to consumers’ credit rankings and scores.
Card issuers also constantly review other records and public information. Graduate from college and new credit offers will appear in your mailbox. File bankruptcy and offers to restart your credit using secured credit cards are delivered to your door.
Are these offers good?
Direct mail solicitations may be good or bad but, if nothing else, they are usually appropriate, given the recipients’ recent credit history and financial situation. E-mail offers are more often non-targeted mass mailings sent out to tens of thousands of Internet addresses at one time and sent repeatedly. These ads are most often dismissed or marked as spam, and deleted.
E-mail barrages are extremely cheap, unlike direct mail or other print media. They are primarily fishing expeditions. If you throw multiple lines in the water, repeatedly, you’ll catch something eventually.
Do banks advertise credit card services on television and radio?
The largest national, regional, and local banks advertise using broadcast media. In many cases, they run institutional ads, spots that promote a positive business image rather than a specific product or service.
The major credit card brands, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover all advertise on TV and radio. These companies also sponsor many public events to call attention to their brands.
Can I still get store credit cards?
At one time, having a credit card for your favorite department store or boutique was a distinct advantage, as many stores would only accept cash, checks, or their own plastic card.
While some stores still offer their own credit cards, many have decided to get out of the credit business altogether. Other retailers offer Visa or MasterCard logo cards that are serviced through banks and other institutions such as G. E. Credit.
Is there any advantage to getting a credit card through my local bank?
Each year, it seems, there are fewer and fewer local banks. Regional or national giants quickly gobble up successful small banks. Other, less successful players shut their doors and sell off their assets to the highest bidders.
With the liberalization of banking laws in the 1980s, credit unions began to offer full banking services to the public. Since that time, they have grown tremendously in influence and popularity, because they are local and can offer personal service that the giant banks cannot.
Credit unions pride themselves on serving their members. Credit unions and other small banks know their customer base and make local credit decisions. This can be helpful when applying for a credit card.
They are also far more likely to help in case a problem arises. Customer service representatives are based in your community, not three continents away, at the end of a toll free phone number.
How do I know a local bank or credit union is good?
Talk to family members, friends, and co-workers and ask them which banks they like to do business with. Personal referrals are always helpful when looking for local services.
When shopping for credit, it’s also helpful to contact your local Better Business Bureau, to see if complaints have been filed against card issuers that you may be considering.
Whether you shop for credit cards locally or across the country, the credit card chaser can help you make the best credit decisions!