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Credit card mail declines, saves trees

Emily Crone

Mail Monitor, Synovate Research’s direct mail tracking service, announced this month that credit card solicitations in the mail greatly declined in the last quarter of 2007. The mortgage crisis and faltering economy have caused creditors to become more selective in who they target for direct marketing.

Washington Mutual cut back on solicitations by 73 percent, Citibank by 52 percent, Discover Card by 50 percent and HSBC by 34 percent. “Washington Mutual and HSBC, in particular, target subprime customers while Citibank and Discover have both experienced financial difficulties as a result of the mortgage crises,” the press release says.

Credit card offers decreased 14 percent between the fourth quarter of 2006 and the fourth quarter of 2007. The overall volume of mail for 2007 was 5.2 billion, or 10 percent less than in 2006, when the volume was 5.8 billion. Response rates remained at 0.5 percent. In other words, for every 200 offers, 199 go in the garbage, perhaps with a side-trip through the shredder first.

While the majority of the issuers are cutting back on solicitations, Chase is taking the opportunity to stand out by dramatically increasing its direct mail to consumers. Chase’s mail volume is up 62 percent when compared to a year ago.

“One in four offers in the mailbox come from Chase,” says Andrew Davidson, Vice President of Competitive Tracking Services for Synovate’s Financial Services Group, in the press release. “This means a typical household is likely to receive two or more Chase offers each month at a time when its key competitors are pulling back.”

It makes me happy that the credit card issuers are no longer flooding the mailboxes of consumers who really don’t need anymore debt. But it also makes me really happy that millions trees are being saved. If consumers truly need another credit card, they can go to their bank or apply online. If only .5 percent of people actually respond to direct mail solicitations for credit cards, is all that wasted paper really worth it? I hope these companies keep their solicitations down even once the economy picks up.

If you want to opt out of credit offers and other junk mail, check out the resources page of our new privacy information center, PrviacyWise.

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  • I am not sure why my comment from yesterday disappeared…but in any case I wanted to reiterate: they may be cracking down, but there is still a TON of junk credit card offers. I get at least one a day in the mail.