Chase, Amex Push Direct Mail Card Offers to 10-Month High

mailWith Chase and American Express leading the pack, credit card issuers sent out 180 million direct mail offers to U.S. consumers in October, a 34 percent jump over September’s batch of mailings.
It marks the highest monthly total since December 2008, and it’s the first major rise in mail volume this year, according to Mintel Comperemedia, a service that provides direct marketing competitive intelligence.
It is uncertain whether the surge in mailings is part of a big push to snatch customers before credit reform hits in February, or a launch of campaigns to test new marketing strategies, or both.
Nonetheless, the figures gathered by Mintel represent higher confidence levels among the big credit card companies, said Andrew Davidson, SVP of Mintel Comperemedia.
“Credit card mail volume is still down significantly from a year ago, but October’s sharp increase is an excellent sign for the industry,” Davidson said.
Davidson anticipates that winter “will mark the start of a turnaround in credit card direct marketing that will be sustained through 2010.”
The month-to-months increases were even more striking among individual credit card providers. Chase and American Express sent the most credit card offers. Each had its most active month this year.  Chase more than doubled mail volume from September 2009, and American Express sent nearly 40 percent more card offers. 
Mintel also reports that October’s increase compared to the previous month is the highest month-to-month jump since February 2004. Davidson said that “this is significant because direct mail rebounded from the 2001 recession in early 2004.” This period was followed by mail volume of “unprecedented peaks in 2005/2006,” he said.
For consumers with existing accounts, however, the direct mail offers have been accompanied at many mailboxes with letters from card issuers informing them of interest rate hikes.
The Credit CARD Act of 2009, which tightens regulations on future credit card rate adjustments, won’t take effect until February. Consumers Union, the prominent advocacy organization that publishes Consumer Reports, today asked the Federal Reserve to immediately halt “unfair” interest rate increases and other dubious practices by card issuers ahead of the reform laws’ take-effect date.
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