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Preapproval credit offers that arrive in the mail are like weeds in your backyard: One or two are no big deal, but too many can quickly become overwhelming.
If you want to put a stop to the flow of offers coming through your mailbox, you can let the credit bureaus know that you’re not interested by visiting OptOutPrescreen.com or calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT. (It also allows you to add back your name if you want to continue receiving the offers.)
The phone number and website are operated by the credit bureaus, which gather credit information and compile credit reports and then provide that information to other companies. If you opt out, you'll stop receiving preapproval offers for credit and insurance for five years; you can make the change permanent by signing a form and mailing it in.
But is that really a step you want to take? Here are the pros and cons of opting out.
Downsides of opting out
Before deciding to opt out of offers, consider these reasons to continue receiving them:
You might want access to easy credit. A key advantage of preapproved credit card offers is that you don't have to wonder whether you qualify. The issuer has already reviewed your credit and has deemed you worthy.
You could miss out on special deals. Preapproved credit card offers sometimes come with more generous terms than the offers available to the general public. There might be a bigger sign-up bonus, for example, or a waived annual fee, or a longer 0% intro APR period. If an issuer is sending you a preapproved offer, it wants your business and may be willing to serve up a pretty sweet deal to get it.
You'll be limiting your options. A preapproved offer might introduce you to a company or product that you weren’t previously aware of; it could turn out to be a good fit for you.
Benefits of opting out
Still, there are good reasons to take the plunge and opt out of preapproved offers. Here are a few:
You'll cut the clutter. People with good or excellent credit know the drill: You apply for a credit card, you get approved and before long the preapproved offers start coming in. The application signals that you're in the market for credit, and issuers are happy to oblige. Dealing with that mail is a hassle — a small one, maybe, but still a hassle.
You'll reduce the potential for identity theft. An offer for thousands of dollars' worth of credit is an inviting target for thieves, who could filch a preapproval letter and apply for a card in your name. It’s not common, but it can happen.
You won't be tempted to add to your debt. Just because you can get a credit card doesn't mean you should. If you have trouble controlling your spending, the last thing you need may be a new card. Turning off the flow of offers can protect your finances.
In addition to opting out of preapproval offers through the number or website listed above, you might want to opt out of direct mail marketing by visiting DMAchoice.org.
If you’ve stopped receiving offers but want to apply for a new credit card, then you might want to browse some of the best offers available for new cardholders.