About 4 billion credit card offers were mailed out to Americans last year, more than any year since 2007 and almost triple the number sent out in 2009, according to analysis from Synovate, a market research firm. The Boston Globe indicates this may be a sign of relaxed lending policies from some of the nation's leading banks.
Synovate's report indicated that on average, only 4 in 1,000 mailings resulted in a response. Still, based on the number of offers sent, this represents approximately 16 million credit card applications.
The Globe says the increase in offers for credit cards is a sign of improving economic conditions, and those who were denied credit cards a year ago are more likely to get them now. TransUnion, one of the three leading credit reporting agencies, said that in the third quarter of 2011, 54 percent of cards were issued to people who had less than perfect credit. Ezra Becker of TransUnion told the Globe: "There is no question that lenders are going back into acquisition mode."
The two banks that increased their marketing efforts the most were Chase and Citibank. The offers mailed out by those two companies alone accounted for half of all offers sent out in the fall. Synovate estimated they doubled their mailings in the last year.
Credit card issuers base their renewed faith on declining unemployment and the lowest rate of credit card delinquency in more than a decade. Marketing efforts have attempted to sway credit-shy consumers with offers of cash back rewards, airline miles and promotions such as zero percent interest for extended periods and even no balance transfer fees for new cardholders.
While consumer advocate groups told the Globe they are concerned about these offers enticing consumers to sign up for cards and debt they can't afford, it appears most people are simply throwing the credit card offers away.