Data: Who is Applying for Credit Card Offers, and What Kind of Cards Do They Get?

Though increasingly credit card applications have gone online (I don’t know of any issuers who does a great job taking applications via mobile) direct mail offers remain a significant source of new accounts. Mintel Comparemedia believes that one-fifth of card applications are generated by a direct mail offer (even if the consumer goes online to actually apply).

This company employs traditional polling data to sample a set of consumers to determine what offer response rates look like, who is getting card offers, and what kind of cards they’re applying for.

And they’re seeing an increase in direct mail offers being sent — up 32% during the June to November period — while actual applications have declined 21%. For marketing geeks that suggests a precipitous decline in response rates, overall dropping from 0.68% in June to 0.51% in November.

  • American Express had the highest issuer response rate in November at 1.84%.
  • Bank of America had the second-highest response rate in November at 0.96%.
  • Chase’s response rate decreased from 0.68% in September to 0.50% in November.
  • Citibank’s response rate decreased from 0.54% in September to 0.43% in November.
  • Capital One saw its response rate decrease from 0.58% in April to 0.35% in November. It sent the highest number of offers per household over the period of September through November.
  • Discover’s response rate decreased from 0.33% in September to 0.30% in November.

More consumers are receiving card offers in the mail — up “from 54% to 67% over nine months last year” including an increase in applications from consumers with annual incomes between $20,000 and $50,000.

Fewer card applications, an increase in reaching down to lower income and possibly lower credit score consumers, combined with data like auto loan delinquencies at their highest level since 2010 (during the Great Recession) seem to raise some economic flags.

My score history about a year ago

Here’s how applications appear to be broken down by rewards type:

  • 47% are for cash rebate cards
  • 36% are for miles or points cards
  • 17% are for cards with no rewards

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’m nearly ready to build a new home, it’s terrible that I’m cheering bad economic news. But it’s good news for me to see things turning poor again…demand for building materials is down, demand for skilled labor is down, and interest rates are dropping, very good news for me 🙁

  2. Discover…they average like 5 mailings to my home. But whatever, more postage for the USPS and goes straight to the recycle bin!

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