Pros and Cons of Prescreened Credit Card Offers – Forbes Advisor

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It is not uncommon to receive several pre-selected credit card offers per month, either by mail or by e-mail. These offers allow credit card issuers to expand their business and sell more products to customers they have already deemed eligible. Anyone can choose to ignore, accept or decline pre-selected offers. It’s ultimately about a company trying to sell you something. But if you take a look, you might find an offer worth considering.

What are pre-selected offers?

Prescreened credit card offers are advertisements sent directly to potential customers who qualify for competitive interest rates or benefits. Major US credit bureaus (such as Equifax, Transunion, or Experian) are legally permitted to share a list of information about eligible individuals with credit card issuers upon request. If a current cardholder meets pre-established criteria based on their credit score or history, issuers will send a pre-selected offer that may offer benefits or rewards not available to the general public.

How do pre-selected offers work?

Pre-selected offers are often unsolicited, but ad card issuers must honor if a customer accepts them. Card issuers offer a series of minimum requirements (such as a minimum credit score) that a potential customer must meet to qualify for a product. Then the company asks one of the major credit bureaus for a list of people whose credit history meets those requirements. The issuer will then send pre-selected card offers to eligible people as part of a marketing strategy, in hopes of acquiring new customers.

Potential customers must apply for a pre-selected offer as they would if they found an offer on the issuer’s website. Issuers, once authorized, will perform a rigorous credit check. Company generally reserves the right to re-examine a customer’s eligibility before approving them for the shortlisted offer. Any major change in credit history that may occur between the time the offer is made and the application submitted may result in the customer being declined.

Advantages and disadvantages of preselected credit card offers

Pre-selected credit cards can be a good way for someone buying another credit card to find a good deal. But these flyers, envelopes and letters are not always welcome in some mailboxes. Here is an overview of the pros and cons of pre-selected credit card offers.


  • Better rates or conditions. Pre-selected offers sometimes include more attractive interest rates, annual fees, sign-up bonuses or rewards not available in the general market. Since card issuers cater directly to eligible people, they can offer a more attractive set of terms.
  • Gentle inquiries that do not affect credit. Card issuers only conduct an informal investigation of a person’s credit history to determine if they are eligible, as they are not authorized by the user to perform a thorough check. Informal inquiries do not appear on credit reports as serious inquiries do. No matter how many pre-selected offers you receive, credit scores are not affected by whether a credit card company has your information.
  • Easy comparison shopping. Receiving a few pre-selected offers at a time allows eligible cardholders to shop around to find the best deal without wasting time and effort searching for the right card. Customers aren’t required to accept (or even respond to) pre-selected offers, which means you can choose one, request it, and ignore the others.
  • Better chance of approval. Since potential customers are selected based on a set of predetermined criteria, there is a much higher chance that a candidate will be accepted with the terms of the offer.

The inconvenients

  • Unsolicited mail. Shortlisted offers are basically unsolicited mail. Many are often referred to as junk mail. Constantly receiving unwanted credit card offers not only takes up space in the mailbox, but also leads to unnecessary use of materials and resources used to print, deliver and dispose of junk mail.
  • Potential for identity theft. Although preselected offers are among the least common forms of identity theft, any mail containing a person’s name and mailing address can potentially be stolen. Identity thieves usually need more personal information than the pre-selected offers don’t include.
  • Data privacy issues. Any list of personal information stored and in particular lists shared between agencies or companies can be hacked or stolen. Data privacy breaches of prequalified customer lists are a risk, but unlikely to be common.

How to unsubscribe from preselected credit card offers

Anyone can opt out of receiving pre-selected offers for five years or permanently. There is an official website operated by the major credit bureaus that centralizes the opt-out (and opt-in) process.

To unsubscribe for five years, visit the website Submit an application online by providing personal information such as name, social security number and date of birth.

To permanently opt out, a paper form must be signed and mailed to confirm a permanent deletion.

Applications are processed in about five days, but it can take a few weeks to take effect, especially if a person’s name has already been provided to card issuers who are preparing to send out another round of pre-selected offers.


Pre-selected offers are a marketing strategy for many credit card issuers. They may request eligible customer information from any of the major credit bureaus in the United States. Pre-selected offers allow potential customers to compare prices and take advantage of rewards or benefits that may not be available to the general public. Anyone can opt out of receiving pre-selected offers by visiting and following the instructions therein.

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