Vertis reports credit card use up

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Sixteen percent of adults use three or more credit cards each month, compared to 10 percent of total adults surveyed in 2003.

The finding comes from the Baltimore-based Vertis Communications "2007 Customer Focus: Financial Study," conducted by Pittsburgh-based research company Marshall Marketing & Communications Inc. It surveyed 2,000 adults by phone in August and September of 2006.

"The increase in credit card usage and monthly payments over the last four years indicate consumers are in the habit of carrying high, revolving credit balances," Jim Litwin, vice president of market insights at Vertis Communications, said in a statement.

"Financial companies looking to target new and existing customers through direct mail should see this steady increase as an opportunity to penetrate the market by presenting consumers with various financial offers and deals that appeal to them based upon this behavior, such as low APRs, cash back or balance transfers," he said.

Findings also reveal the average monthly credit card payment for card holders has increased from $500 in 2003 to $732 in 2007. Results also show that 19 percent of credit card holders pay $1,000 or more each month on all credit cards combined.

Vertis' 2007 financial study suggests that financial direct mail may be more effective in drawing consumer attention when a free gift is enclosed and a name is listed on the envelope face. A free gift or token inside financial direct mail appeals to 35 percent of financial direct mail readers, compared to 23 percent in 2003.

Sixty-eight percent of financial direct mail readers also indicate they are more likely to open mail with their name on the front of the envelope, steady from 71 percent in 2003.

The survey also found the following.

■ Forty-six percent of financial direct mail readers surveyed with three or more credit cards indicated they are most likely to read direct mail letters offering balance transfers.

■ Of the financial direct mail readers who have one credit card, 65 percent stated they have read new credit card options for a credit card they currently hold. Additionally, 69 percent of financial direct mail readers surveyed with two credit cards stated they read new credit card offers arriving in the mail.

■ There has been a 23 percent increase in credit card holders who use credit cards that accumulate points for merchandise or airline tickets; this is up from 25 percent in 2003 to 48 percent in 2007.

■ According to the 2007 study, half of credit-card-holders use a premium card such as gold or platinum, remaining constant since 2003.

■ As credit card usage has increased throughout the years, the 2007 study finds that debit card usage has decreased from 55 percent in 2003 to 48 percent in 2007.

■ Credit cards issuing "cash back" incentives were among the most commonly used in 2007 by 30 percent of all credit-card-holders, compared to 18 percent in 2003 .

■ Single-purpose credit cards (such as cards for a retailer or merchant) continue to be used by 25 percent of all credit-card-holders surveyed. Meanwhile, charge cards that require a balance paid in full each month have decreased in popularity since 2003, with 11 percent of credit-card-holders indicating they use this type of card in 2007, compared to 14 percent in 2003.

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