Monday, October 20, 2008

Save a Tree, Apply Online

Last year, according to Synovate's Mail Monitor Service (the leading research company that tracks direct mail), there were over six billion credit card solicitations sent through the U.S. Postal system to consumers. That's billion with a "b", as in six thousand million solicitations. Just last year the total surpassed five billion pieces of mail for the first time in history, an amazing milestone in the marketing of credit cards.

Why are the credit card companies burying the American public in so many pieces of junk mail? Well, when it comes right down to it, direct mail has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to induce consumers to apply for a credit card. The banks and issuers have learned this over the years from trial and error. This, despite the fact that direct mail response rates have been falling over time, and are down to a record low level of less than one half of one percent. That means that for every 1,000 solicitations sent to American households, 995 go into the trash can. It's enough to make even an anti-environmentalist go out and hug a tree.

Direct mail provides credit card issuers with the ability to finely target their offers according to consumers' risk profiles, though. And, the banks, being publicly traded companies, must meet aggressive growth targets to keep their stock prices on track. So, regardless of how many forests are felled in their quest for increased market share, direct mail is probably going to continue as the primary mode of account acquisition for issuers.

However, there is a better way to apply for a credit card—online, through a secure website. operates the Internet's number one site to compare credit card offers and apply securely online for the offer that best suits your needs. And, comparing offers is really only something you can effectively do online, which doesn't always work to a particular issuer's advantage. Which is why any given individual card issuer probably would prefer that you only ponder their single offer while sitting at your kitchen table rather than seeing hundreds of competing offers in one convenient location.

Not to mention that applying online is faster and more secure than applying through the mail. Online credit card applications made through employ state of the art data encryption to ensure security of personal information. And, this data is transmitted at the speed of light, rather than the speed of the U.S. Postal Service. Moving secure data at 186,000 miles per second will always win over a promise of 3 – 5 business days.

If you've reached your limit with receiving unsolicited credit card offers and have a soft spot in your heart for the environment, there is a way to stop the flow of junk mail coming into your home. Consumers can go to the website of the Direct Marketing Association ( to add their name to the national "Do Not Solicit" list. National marketers are required to scrub the names of those on this list at least once per quarter, so while it is effective, it can take several months after signing up before the solicitations stop arriving.

Regardless of your stance on junk mail, searching and applying for a credit card online is the best way to acquire your next card. That way, you can be assured that you have made an informed decision, rather than reacting to a single offer that shows up uninvited into your mailbox.

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