Credit card direct mail volume is back on the rise, according to Mintel Comperemedia.
Issuers sent 180 million credit card offers to U.S. consumers in October, a 34% increase over the 134 million credit card offers sent during September. This is the highest monthly total tracked since December 2008, and it's the first significant rise in mail volume all year.
Chase and American Express sent the most credit card offers. Each issuer had its most active mail month this year, as Chase more than doubled mail volume from September 2009 and American Express sent nearly 40% more offers. US Bank and HSBC (October's seventh and eighth top mailers, respectively) likewise had their greatest mail months of 2009 to date.
Some credit card issuers seem to be holding back on direct mail in preparation for the next wave of CARD Act implementations, says Andrew Davidson, SVP of Chicago-based Mintel Comperemedia. The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act was passed to "end the days of unfair rate hikes and hidden fees," according to the White House.
"Once these issuers establish their marketing strategies, I expect they'll return to the mailbox," Davidson says. "This will help drive increases in credit card direct mail next year."
In the face of tight credit markets, increasing government scrutiny, and high unemployment and consumer debt, card issuers have drastically reduced marketing direct mail efforts since the middle of last year.
"With recent green shoots of economic recovery, card issuers feel more confident about the future," Davidson says. "I anticipate that this winter will mark the start of a turnaround in credit card direct marketing that will be sustained through 2010. This could very well be the beginning of the end for credit card direct mail declines."
October's month-to-month increase in credit card direct mail is the highest recorded since February 2004. Davidson adds that "this is significant because direct mail rebounded from the 2001 recession in early 2004. Then, of course, we saw mail volume reach unprecedented peaks in 2005/2006."