Tired of Getting Unwanted Credit Card Offers? Try This

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  • American consumers receive pre-approved offers for credit cards and insurance due to the credit bureaus providing names and addresses to lenders and insurance companies.
  • It's a better idea to do your own research about which credit cards to apply for.
  • You can easily opt out of these offers permanently for the cost of a little time, a stamp, and an envelope.

Unsolicited mail is one of life's little annoyances.

If you're anything like me, your mailbox regularly overflows with mail you didn't ask for and don't want. And it's likely that a large percentage of that mail is pre-approvals for credit cards, other financing, and insurance offers. Why do American consumers receive so much junk mail of this type? Simply put, it's because consumer lenders and insurance companies get names and addresses of ordinary people who meet certain criteria (such as a minimum credit score) from the credit reporting bureaus. This makes it possible for these companies to market directly to us, and fills up those mailboxes (and trash cans).

Junk mail, junk mail everywhere

Having a mailbox full of these offers isn't an ideal situation for a couple of reasons. First of all, pre-approved credit card offers can leave you vulnerable to fraud if thieves get their hands on them, send them back, and intercept/use credit cards in your name. So let this also serve as a wake-up call to check your mail frequently, and shred those offers!

Second, it may not be the wisest move to pick your newest credit card via an offer mailed to you. While sometimes a mailed pre-approval is the way you'll find out about a card that could be a good fit for you, it's better to do some research and choose a new card based on your spending habits or rewards that are most useful to you. For example, I recently added a new credit card to my wallet, and I found out about it and its benefits by searching online for cards that offered the best cash back for spending I actually do.

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The good news is, there's a way to get your name and address off these mailing lists.

Opt out of that junk mail

Ready for an emptier mailbox? Head over to OptOutPrescreen.com and follow these steps:

  • Scroll down and click "Click Here to Opt-In or Opt-Out."
  • You'll be presented with the choice to opt-in for "firm offers of credit or insurance." If you aren't receiving offers and want to, you can do that here -- after all, you might like knowing ahead of time which cards you are pre-approved for.
  • You can either opt-out for five years, which is just an online form, or you can opt-out permanently, which includes an extra step. The online form will ask for your name, address, phone number, and Social Security number. This is so your identity can be verified, and your SSN will be encrypted.
  • I elected to opt-out permanently, so I also had to print out a Permanent Opt-Out Election Form and mail it in. For the cost of a stamp, an envelope, and a little time, you can have an emptier mailbox for good.

I went through this process a few months ago, and I'm happy to report that I am not receiving unsolicited offers anymore. I am still getting mail from lenders I already do business with, though, but that's not a surprise. And do note that opting out from offers via the credit bureaus will not stop all junk mail you receive; the process has nothing to do with local businesses, charities, or political candidates who clog your mailbox. I know of no way to opt out of those, unfortunately.

If you've got some time and are willing to sacrifice a stamp and an envelope, I highly recommend hopping over to OptOutPrescreen and getting more space in your mailbox for the mail you want to receive.

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