Credit card offers multiplying again

more credit card offers in the mail these days
more credit card offers in the mail these days

If you feel like you've been getting a lot of mail lately encouraging you to open a credit card, it's not your imagination. Banks have been ramping up the number of offerings they're sending to your mailboxes.

According to market research firm Synovate, credit card issuers sent 481.3 million offers to American consumers in the first quarter of 2010, up a whopping 77% from just half a year ago. About half this large number came from only two issuers, Capital One and Chase. Why are issuers suddenly being so aggressive in their search for new customers?

The biggest reason is that consumers are spending again, and the card companies want a piece of that pie. "We've seen a significant increase [in offers]," says Andrew Davidson, senior vice president of Comperemedia, a division of market research firm Mintel. "What we're witnessing here is a more cautiously optimistic approach."

Crucial numbers like delinquencies and unemployment numbers are heading down, and the stock market is heading back up after last week's hiccup, all factors that give the issuers confidence, Davidson says, and adds that Mintel expects the total number of credit card solicitations to total between 3 billion and 4 billion this year. While this sounds like a lot, it pales in comparison to the number of offers that were mailed during the boom a few years ago.