Is that targeted credit card offer worth accepting?
For basically as long as there have been credit cards, there have been targeted credit card offers. These are exclusive credit card promotions that are not available to the general public. In fact, one of the first versions of our modern credit card was actually sent unsolicited to everyone in select California towns as part of a pilot program to gauge their popularity.
These days, depending on your location, spending habits, and credit history, you can receive targeted credit card offers in the mail -- often in multiples -- from banks or card issuers.
While targeted card offers can be a dime a dozen, there are times when it pays to be on the receiving end of a good offer. Here's a look at when you should consider following up with that targeted offer.
When the sign-up bonus beats the public offer
One of the best things about targeted credit card offers is that they often contain bountiful sign-up bonuses that put the public offers to shame. This could be a higher points offer, or it could involve extra perks like a better bonus rate on certain purchase rewards for a limited time.
If the targeted offer you receive has a better sign-up bonus than what's being offered to the public, it may be worth a second look, especially if you've already been thinking about applying.
As with any sign-up bonus, of course, be sure you can meet the requirements of the targeted offer's bonus. A higher bonus amount or rewards rate could come with a larger spending requirement, making the bonus a little harder to achieve than the public offer.
When you might not qualify without the offer
There are a few rare cases where a targeted offer could be the only way to apply for a credit card and actually get approved. The main example that comes to mind is Chase and its notorious 5/24 rule. If you've opened five or more credit card accounts in the last 24 months, Chase will usually automatically reject your application.
However, there's one main exception: a targeted card offer. But not any old targeted Chase credit card offer will do. No, it's only the specific "Just for You" offers that can occasionally appear in your online Chase account. This means you'll need an existing Chase bank account or credit card account to be eligible.
Another example is invitation-only credit cards. Some of the most exclusive credit cards require a direct invitation to even apply, meaning your only hope of qualifying is to respond to a targeted offer.
How to stop receiving targeted card offers
Although it can certainly feel like receiving regular credit card offers is just a part of life, you don't need to spend your days recycling unwanted offers that you're not interested in. Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can decide to opt out of unsolicited credit card offers.
You can opt out by phone when you call 888-5-OPTOUT (888-567-8688). You can also opt-out online through OptOutPrescreen.com. If you use the online form, you'll have the option to opt out for up to five years. To opt out permanently, you'll need to print the online form and then send it by mail.
You can also choose to opt back into receiving offers through the same website. Keep in mind that if you actively apply for pre-approved credit card offers with an issuer, you essentially re-register yourself to receive offers.
It's also worth noting that opting out of pre-screened offers typically won't stop your current banks or card issuers from sending your targeted offers through your online banking app. Nor will it stop your bank from making card offers while you're in your bank branch.
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