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As credit card application restrictions evolve and new cardmember bonuses become harder to come by, it’s essential we look past the most common methods of applying for cards to secure the best deals. An often overlooked technique is to position yourself for targeted credit card offers.
Targeted offers via email, postal delivery, or pre-qualified offers from your bank or credit provider typically provide higher than average rewards for meeting the minimum spend on new cards. Over the past few years, we've seen reports of targeted offers on cards like the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express, and also one of our favorite business cards, the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card.
Banks and loyalty programs regularly target customers with personalized credit card offers. These can include increased bonuses compared to what is publicly available, bonus points for upgrading to a higher-tier card within the same card family, or bonus points for reaching tiered spending challenges. Offers can be targeted at specific demographics, regions, individuals that meet the right financial criteria, or existing customers where the bank wants to deepen financial relationships.
Each credit provider uses different metrics to determine who is targeted, but suitable candidates have an excellent credit score and clean credit history, are actively using revolving credit already, and are members of the rewards programs that they want to be targeted.
Check Pre-Qualified Offers by Phone, Online, and In-Branch
Any bank or financial institution with whom you have an existing relationship is a good candidate to check for pre-qualified offers. You can do this by calling up your bank, checking online when signed into the customer portal, or you can call into a branch and talk to a rep face to face. Checking for pre-qualified offers from your bank is not the same as applying for a credit card, there is no hard pull on your credit file, it's only checking if your bank has you pre-qualified for credit products.
It’s important to note that pre-qualified offers don’t guarantee your application will be successful. The credit provider will still pull your credit report and perform standard financial due diligence on your application. They may, however, occasionally make exceptions to their internal application rules or restrictions.
Opt-In to Email & Direct Mail Offers
One reason you may not receive targeted credit card offers is if you've opted-out of email and postal promotions. It should go without saying that to get targeted credit card offers, you need to be signed up to receive them. However, if you’ve been on the receiving end of one too many Discover campaigns, it’s common to hit the unsubscribe button just to be rid of the clutter.
The problem with opting-out is you’re potentially leaving hundreds, if not thousands of dollars value on the table. If you spend large sums on your cards and pay your balance each month, you’re a valuable customer, and credit providers want you signed up to their products. Ensure you register to receive emails and promos from every loyalty program and financial institution you bank with and check that your mailing and email addresses are up to date.
One of the most significant benefits of checking your physical mail is that occasionally offers will exclude restrictive language that prevents you from obtaining a signup bonus a second time or within a specified timeframe. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s the equivalent of winning the award travel lottery!
You can typically find email and communication settings after signing into your account and navigating to something along the lines of:
Profile > Communication or Contact Preferences > Email and/or Promo Settings
However, this process will differ between providers.
Sign-Up to Rewards Programs and Add a Small Balance
Another method for receiving targeted offers is signing up for a rewards program and adding a small balance of points or miles. You don’t need to build a significant balance. Transferring the minimum number of points across from a flexible currency like Ultimate Rewards or Marriott Bonvoy or crediting miles when flying another airline within the same alliance, or even making a purchase through the program's shopping portal is usually enough.
Loyalty programs want to see you investing in their points or miles before sending you lucrative offers. Again, this is not science or bank policy, but a method we’ve seen in action and used ourselves to a positive end.
Initiate a Booking to Receive Better Offers
A great example of this approach in action was a past offer on the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card, which was offering 30K miles after a qualifying purchase. If you initiated a booking on Alaska’s website, you’d receive an exclusive online offer that included a $100 statement credit in addition to the 30K Alaska miles.
Targeted credit card offers provide an opportunity to bag higher than average new cardmember bonuses. But to ensure you get these offers, you need to register to receive promos from every loyalty program and bank with whom you have an existing relationship.
For those that aren't targeted for higher offers. A few members of our Facebook community Award Travel 101, have reported having recent applications matched to higher targeted offers after contacting the bank via phone or secure message, not knowing that they were even eligible for such an offer. There is no guarantee, but the answer is always no unless you ask.
If you have any questions or tips on getting targeted credit card offers, we would love to hear from you in the comments below.
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