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Preapproved credit cards

Misleading “Preapproved credit card” offers

You have probably seen these offers, telling you that you are” Pre-Approved” for a credit card. The average household received 6 of these per month in 2005. Don't be fooled, however, "Pre-approved" doesn't mean you're really approved. It's deliberately misleading for consumers in order to get you to apply for their card. Preapproved simply means you've passed the first prescreening. There is no guarantee that you will get a card. Generally the company will take your application and conduct another approval process to determine if they will give you a card. After this approval process you are either given a card, turned down, or you may be offered a card with different terms.

What to do with pre-approved credit card offers.

  • Read the fine print thoroughly. Follow the asterisks, which lead you to the bottom of the page where exceptions to the terms are outlined in teeny-tiny print.
  • If there are terms you don't understand, call the 800 number and ask the issuer to explain.
    • Look for the expiration date on an offer with an introductory interest rate.
    • Look for an application deadline. Most offers are good for a limited time.

Get a copy of your credit report before applying for a card.

How to Stop Receiving Credit Card Offers

If you’re tired of receiving preapproved credit-card offers, there is a way to reduce the mailbox clutter: Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumers can opt out of prescreened credit offers by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT or by visiting

Opting out won't eliminate all preapproved credit offers, but it can reduce the number of offer you will receive. Whether you opt out or not, it is important to shred or destroy any preapproved offers before throwing them away to prevent identity thieves from applying for credit in your name.

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