You get home from a long day of work, take a walk to the mailbox, and open it to discover a stack of credit card offers. Sound familiar? Unless you have “opted out” from receiving “pre-approved” offers then you likely see stacks of these credit card offers filling up your mailbox every week.
And like many other consumers, you may find yourself wondering…
- Why am I receiving these unsolicited offers?
- Are these offers bad for my credit?
- Is there a way to stop receiving them?
- How did they get my name and address?
Let’s take a quick look at the answers to these common questions.
Q&A: What Does It Mean To Be Pre-Qualified For A Credit Card?
Why do I receive pre-approved credit card offers in the mail?
The answer to this question is actually quite long and complicated if you look at the process in-depth. However, a quick overview can cover most of the basic facts.
First, the credit bureaus compile massive amounts of consumer data which they sell to lenders, banks, insurance companies, etc. Selling data is the primary way that the credit bureaus make money. Your data can be sold in the form of a credit report to lenders or even to you directly when you purchase a copy of your own personal credit report.
However, the credit bureaus not only sell credit reports, but they also sell “pre-screened” lists to credit card companies to be used for marketing firm offers of credit. Let’s say that Bank X wants to find new credit card clients with excellent credit scores to apply for their platinum credit card product. Bank X can purchase, from any of the credit bureaus, a list of consumers with credit scores of 720 or higher. (Bank X can choose other criteria as well to limit their search even further.) The credit bureau sells the completed list to Bank X and soon “pre-approved” credit card offers are on their way to the mailboxes of the targeted consumers.
Are pre-approved credit card offers bad for my credit?
The short answer is no.
The bank sending you the conditional offer of credit has a rough idea of where your credit score may fall, but a full copy of your credit report has not actually been pulled and reviewed by the lender.
Therefore, only a “soft inquiry” shows up on your credit reports anytime you receive a pre-approved credit card offer. Soft credit inquiries do not hurt your credit scores. If you respond to the offer and fill out an application, however, then that is a different ball game altogether because that counts as a regular credit card application, which generates a hard inquiry on your account.
How do I make the pre-approved credit card offers stop?
Opting out from receiving pre-approved credit card offers is free and easy. Simply visit www.optoutprescreen.com.
Once on the website you will need to fill out a form requesting that the credit bureaus stop selling your information to credit card issuers wishing to use it to market firm offers of credit. You can choose to opt out online for a period of 5 years or you can print a request, which you must mail to the address provided, in order to opt out permanently. Don’t worry – you can always opt back in if you ever change your mind in the future.
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