Americans like credit card applications to come to them: Cardbeat

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Forty-two percent of U.S. consumers received their newest credit card through a pre-approved credit card offer, according to Cardbeat, a syndicated market research report by management-consulting firm Auriemma Consulting Group.

The report said Americans are familiar with direct mail solicitations and usually have several to choose from when they decide to apply for a new credit line.

"In the past the U.S. credit card industry relied nearly entirely on mail solicitations to generate new acquisitions," said Megan Bramlette, managing editor at Cardbeat, which provides insight into how consumer perceptions affect credit card acquisition and usage.

"Although branches, the Web and direct response TV also court consumers, mail still generates the greatest success."

In 2005, 39 percent of U.S. consumers said they applied for a credit card through a pre-approved direct mail offer. That percentage increased by 50 percent in 2007 to 60 percent of U.S. consumers.

By contrast British consumers apply for credit cards primarily through untargeted materials such as "take one" applications available at teller counters. Only 28 percent have ever replied to a pre-approved direct mail offer. Just 15 percent applied for their most recent credit cards this way.

If credit lines are any indication, U.S. and British consumers are sourcing their credit tools appropriately. "This year Americans who acquired cards through pre-approved mail offers received an average credit line of $8,002," Ms. Bramlette said. "Brits who applied through the same channel got an average of $5,795, but those who filled out take ones received credit lines averaging $9,729."

Cardbeat surveyed 501 American credit card users in December 2005 and 400 American credit card users in January 2007. Data from 505 British respondents were collected in January 2007 to enable a cultural comparison. The results from this survey were originally published in the U.S. and British editions of Cardbeat.

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