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Stop! Don’t Touch That Pre-Approved Credit Card Offer

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Like it or not, we’ve all gotten credit card offers in the mail. It might even be tempting to apply if you’re “pre-approved”. Maybe you can earn some extra rewards you’re not already getting, or perhaps do a balance transfer for 0% APR and save yourself some money on your monthly payments. However, most of these offers really aren’t as good as they sound. You know what you should really do with credit card offers that show up in your mailbox? Shred them.

“Hold on a minute,” you might be saying to yourself, “they can’t all be bad.” Actually, yes they can. Here’s the real problem with mail offers: even the best ones aren’t as good as the offers you can find online. It’s okay if you missed the memo. In the days before the Internet, most credit card companies had to battle for your business via mail, but that’s definitely not true anymore. These days, you’ll find the best offers at credit card comparison sites like NerdWallet. We have special partnerships with credit card issuers that allow us to offer you the best deals on all kinds of credit cards.

A better bet for balance transfers

Interested in a balance transfer credit card? Nearly every offer you get in the mail advertises 0% APR for balance transfers. It all sounds great if you get stuck on the 0 and ignore the details. How long does that offer last? What’s the APR after the balance transfer? Is there a balance transfer fee? It’s not really 0 if you have to pay money to transfer your debt to your new card, and you usually do. We’re not mentioning any names, but the best offer we found in the mail for a balance transfer card was 0% APR for 15 months and a 4% balance transfer fee. If you look on our site, you’ll see right away that the Citi Simplicity gives you 0% interest for 18 months on both purchases and balance transfers, and the balance transfer fee is only 3%.

The real scoop on rewards

You’ll find the best offers for rewards credit cards online too. We’ve seen a ton of mail offers advertising 1% cash back on your purchases, but do you want to know a secret? That’s the industry standard for rewards credit cards. We’ll tell you exactly which cards to get for 2% cash back, and even 5% back on your purchases. It gets better: we can tell you which cards have the best signup bonuses too. The Chase Freedom is currently offering a $100 bonus when you spend $500 on your card in the first 3 months. That’s in addition to the 5% back on your purchases in rotating bonus categories. Not bad, huh?

The best deals and so much more

Sure, NerdWallet has great deals, but you want to know what really makes us different from the other credit card websites out there? We offer you the unbiased information you need to make a smart decision. Now that’s something you won’t find on any other credit card comparison website, and it’s definitely something you won’t find with your offer in the mail.

Actually, maybe those mail offers are good for something after all. At least they got you thinking about your current credit card’s terms and conditions, or you wouldn’t be thinking about applying in the first place. Now you know that you can do better. The next time you need a credit card, send your mail offers to the shredder where they belong, and make a beeline for your computer instead. We think you’ll be glad you did.

  • Frequent Miler

    I disagree with the advice here. People frequently receive offers in the mail that are better than anything available online. For example, I was offered 100k membership rewards points as a sign up bonus for an Amex card whereas there are no deals available online that come close to that. Similarly, my mom was offered 50 Ultimate Rewards points for signing up for the Chase Sapphire (not Sapphire Preferred) at a time when 25k was the best available online offer for that card. To me, better advice is to look at the offers you get in the mail and compare them to what is available online. Only to for them if they’re as good or better.

    • Fred Fnord

      Yeah. This article really strikes me as ‘please don’t use those offers that were mailed to you… use our affiliate links instead!’ Shady, man.

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  • Larrys1

    I also want to disagree that all mail offers are not competitive. Within the last six months I’ve received offers from some of my existing cards offering 12 month 0% financing with a 1% (Chase) or 2% (Capitol One) transaction fee.

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