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7 ways to attract targeted credit card offers

If you're getting fewer card offers in the mail, don't despair; here's how to unlock access to appealing offers

Summary

If you feel you’re getting fewer credit card offers in the mail, you’re not alone. Here are seven tips for attracting targeted card offers that might be appealing to you.

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If you’re used to getting pre-approved credit card offers in the mail, don’t be surprised to see fewer of them. Credit card companies are changing up how they market card offers to consumers, making them less likely to show up in your mailbox.

That doesn’t mean you have to miss out on a great credit card deal, however. Here’s how to make sure you’re regularly on the receiving end of targeted credit card offers.

See related: Credit card offers: Why you’re not getting them in the mail anymore

1. Check your bank for pre-qualified offers

The first place to look for targeted offers is your bank. It may be as simple as logging in to your online account to look for pre-qualified offers or scanning the bank’s website.

Most importantly, make yourself accessible.

“If you want to attract targeted credit card offers from banks you already have a relationship with, always make sure you’re letting these banks communicate in some form, whether it’s email or regular mail,” says Tom Nathaniel, founder of personal finance blog LushDollar.com. “Since this is how most banks target their potential customers, it’s one way to stay in the loop.”

If an online check for offers is a dead end, call or visit your nearest branch to speak with a banker. They may be able to clue you in to special targeted offers that aren’t widely advertised online.

2. Don’t ignore income update requests

Every so often, your credit card company may ask you to update your annual household income when logging into your online account. It’s a small thing but it could make you a candidate for targeted offers.

“Income is relevant for pre-qualified offers,” says Daniel Gillaspia, travel rewards expert and founder of UponArriving.com. If your income has increased, “banks will view you as a potentially more profitable customer, capable of spending more and earning them more on interchange fees or handling larger debt loads.”

Updating your income may result in more targeted offers coming your way from companies you don’t have accounts with as well.

“Credit card companies ask consumer reporting companies for a list of individuals who meet their criteria for a targeted offer,” says Dan Wilke, founder of Credit Liftoff. This list is based on different criteria, including annual income.

“Updating your income with banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions may result in this information being passed along to companies seeking customers for targeted offers,” says Wilke.

See related: Why is my credit card company asking about my income?

3. Go ‘incognito’

Using stealth to scout for card deals could reveal targeted offers a regular Google search may not.

Gillaspia says finding these offers can be as simple as pasting a link to a card from the credit card company’s website into Google Incognito mode to pull up a higher offer.

For example, a standard bonus offer of 60,000 points on a premium card may translate into a targeted offer of 100,000 bonus points using your browser’s incognito mode.

It’s also possible to unlock similar promotions by setting up a VPN on your internet connection. A VPN or virtual private network allows you to access region-restricted websites.

If a targeted offer is only available on the West Coast, for instance, and you live on the East Coast, you may still be able to find and apply for the card using a VPN. A VPN also protects your information, making it more secure.

Nathaniel uses a Reddit spreadsheet to find targeted offers that are available via incognito or referral links. “It showcases some of the best offers on the market right now and how you can apply for them,” he says.

If you know a targeted offer is available but can’t pin down a link, “call the credit card company directly to see if you can take advantage,” says Nathaniel.

4. Leverage loyalty programs

Hotel and airline loyalty programs could turn up lucrative targeted offers if you’re routinely earning points or miles toward free nights and flights.

“One of the best ways to be targeted for a credit card offer is to sign up for the free loyalty program with a company you’d like to receive an offer from,” says Wilke. “Hotel and airline rewards programs will send out targeted offers to members who are not using their branded credit card.”

Wilke has used this method successfully to garner targeted offers from United Airlines.

If you’re looking for other travel loyalty programs with targeted offer potential, consider these:

You may also be targeted for card offers midflight with selected airlines. United, American and Delta authorize flight attendants to offer selected travelers credit card deals once they’re aboard.

While these cards can come with attractive introductory rewards bonuses, read the fine print first. Don’t sign up without considering the APR, annual fees, rewards structure and minimum spending requirement to qualify for a bonus.

5. Attract targeted offers when you shop

Frequently shopping the same merchants online could increase your chances of being targeted with a card offer.

If you routinely spend with Amazon for example, you may get a targeted offer for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. It offers 5 percent back at Amazon and Whole Foods, 2 percent back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores and 1 percent back everywhere else, plus a special Amazon gift card promotion when you’re approved.

Gillaspia offers an under-the-radar tip for attracting card offers using your online shopping cart.

“Use a private browser, turn off ad-blocker, put items in your cart and then see if an offer shows up,” he says.

Just be cautious when considering targeted offers for retail store cards. A 2018 CreditCards.com survey found that the average median APR for retail cards is 25.64 percent – by comparison, the national average credit card APR stands at 17.64 percent according to CreditCards.com’s Weekly Rate Report.

“They [store cards] tend to have lower credit limits and may have deferred interest programs, which can result in paying a lot of interest if you’re not careful,” says Gillaspia.

Deferred-interest plans are often advertised as charging “no interest until” a certain date. After that date, however, interest that has been accruing since the purchase date is charged to the account unless the balance is paid in full.
You can use CardMatch to find personalized card offers. This tool from CreditCards.com lets you see what cards you’re pre-qualified for in under a minute.

6. Use targeted-offer tools

Credit monitoring services can give you a peek at your credit score, but they can also do something else. Many of these tools also include personalized recommendations for credit card offers from partner card issuers.

These recommendations are based on factors such as your credit score, income, debt-to-income ratio and overall credit history. This is a simple way to narrow down the field to find cards that fit your needs and carry the best chances of getting approved for.

If you’re not signed up for any credit monitoring services, you can use CardMatch to find personalized card offers. This tool from CreditCards.com lets you see what cards you’re pre-qualified for in under a minute. A soft credit check is required but that won’t hurt your credit score.

7. Make sure you’ve opted in

You may not be seeing as many targeted credit card offers lately if you’ve said ‘no thanks’ to them in the past.

“If consumers have opted out of targeted offers, their information will not be available for credit card companies when they contact consumer reporting vendors,” says Wilke. “If you’ve opted out, you can reverse your decision at OptOutPrescreen.com to again receive credit card offers.”

See related: Go paperless without neglecting your card bills

Check with your bank and credit card company to make sure you’ve opted in. And weigh any targeted offers they send your way carefully before you commit.

“Consumers should determine if the specifics of the offer will better benefit their spending habits relative to other options,” says Wilke.

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