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Consumers Junking New Credit Card Mailings, Study Shows

November 28, 1994

NEW YORK (AP) _ Consumers have been inundated with offers for new credit cards, but a new study shows that many of the mailings end up in the trash can.

Response rates to credit card mailings fell to their lowest rate ever in the first half of 1994, according to data from Behavioral Analysis Inc., a marketing research firm in Tarrytown, N.Y

Only 1.6 percent of the people who received solicitations actually signed up for the card, according to BAI.

That’s below the average response rate of 2.5 percent in a typical year, said Kate Permut, vice president of marketing.

People usually toss the mailings out because they have enough credit cards, because there are too many new offers and because mass mailings are not an effective way of reaching consumers, said Permut.

Sending consumers offers through the mail is the main way that credit card companies get new customers. Card companies sent out a record 1.2 billion pieces of mail in the first six months of this year, compared to 1.5 billion for all of 1993.

To be sure, a lot of people are still signing up for new cards. Nearly 20 million new card applications were submitted by consumers to the nation’s banks in the first half of the year, BAI reported.

But response rates tend to decline as the number of mailings increase - making consumers feel barraged.

For example, the higher response rate ever recorded by BAI was in the last three months of 1991, when it reached 3.7 percent. Only 151 million new offers were mailed during that period, said BAI.