In an effort to entice some of the nation's more well-off consumers into once again taking on more credit card debt, many of the top lenders in the U.S. have begun sending out offers for new accounts in far greater numbers than last year.
Mintel Comperemedia recently released figures that show the number of credit card offers sent out by the nation's largest lenders rose to more than 1.4 billion in the first quarter of the year, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. This was an increase of 69 percent from the 826 million offers sent out during the first quarter of 2010. Most of these offers also come with attractive initial rates and lower startup fees.
But at the same time, the vast majority of those offers were sent to more affluent consumers, the report said. In all, about two-thirds of all offers were mailed to households that made more than $75,000 dollars per year, and 59 percent of mailings were for accounts that carried some sort of incentive.
"The demand for these customers is incredibly high right now," Megan Bramlette, a credit card consultant at Auriemma Consulting Group, told the newspaper. "I figure I can get 80,000 miles a year on the card, which, combined with the bonus miles, is enough to get a business-class ticket anywhere in the world."
The increases over the past year are significant, but still considerably lower than levels observed prior to the onset of the recession, the report said. The 1.4 billion offers is less than the 1.8 billion observed in the fourth quarter of 2007. However, the proportion of offers for rewards accounts has nearly doubled from the 30 percent observed in the first quarter of 2007.
Most of the rewards offers are specifically targeted for consumers in the top one-third of all credit ratings – those between 720 and the maximum of 850, the report said. However, all Americans have seen the number of offers they've received increase at least slightly, an indication that major lenders are once again slackening standards for borrowers who have worked to get out of debt fast.
During the recession, many consumers saw their credit card balances tumble both because of vastly increased incidences of charged off accounts, as well as more borrowers who took greater efforts to reduce debt as their money problems increased.