TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – Credit card offers dropped in 2002 due to concerns about war and uncertain economies, reported one card marketing and tracking firm, and have still not recovered completely. “The dip in credit card mail volume really hit in the 4th quarter, propelled by an uncertain economy and worries about impending war,” said Andrew Davidson, Vice President of Competitive Tracking Services for Synovate. “In such a volatile environment, U.S. card issuers were less likely to target low-income households.” Just 20% of offers during the fourth quarter were received by households with annual incomes of less than $35,000, compared to 32% of offers targeting those same types of household during the fourth quarter of 2001, he said. However, the pace has picked up somewhat, he explained, noting that there were 1.19 billion solicitations in the first quarter, 2% fewer than a year earlier but 3% more than in the fourth quarter. “This is a very cluttered direct mail environment and response rates have been below 1.0% since 2000. For issuers, the cost of acquiring new cardholders has increased significantly. Yet direct mail solicitations still produce millions of card applications each year,” concluded Davidson.

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