Editorial Policy

How do I stop those credit card offers?

Eva Norlyk Smith Ph.D.

March 10, 2014

QDear Eva,

I have amazing credit (in the 800s), and the preapproved credit card offers just keep coming. I just got one yesterday that would give me 30,000 travel points if I spend $500 on the card the first three months. They are so tempting! Is there a way to make them stop? Brian

AHi Brian,

Indeed, preapproved credit card offers are both a blessing and a curse. It's great to have options, but once you have excellent credit, as you do, there's generally no need to take out additional cards, unless the ones in your wallet aren't working for you anymore.

Card issuers really know how to roll out the red carpet with irresistible offers when they want a person's business, so you're right, why expose yourself to that kind of temptation?Ask Eva

Preapproved offers are typically created from information card issuers get via the credit rating agencies — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — based on the credit scoring criteria specified. So, as a courtesy, the credit rating bureaus, with credit repository Innovis, have created a website where you can opt out of preapproved offers for five years or permanently.

Go to OptOutPrescreen.com or call (888) 567-8688. Click the button at the bottom of the website's home page and follow the prompts.

If you choose to opt out permanently, you must print, sign and mail a Permanent Opt-Out Election form before the request becomes effective, per government regulations. You can get the form on OptOutPrescreen.com by following the prompts. Meanwhile, you will be processed for the five-year opt-out until the permanent opt-out becomes effective.

How long will it take before the credit card offers stop? Well, the opt-out request will become effective with the credit bureaus within five days after you submit your request. However, it may take longer before those card offers stop cluttering up your mailbox — companies may have received your name before you opted out.

Finally, if your spouse or other members of your household receive card offers as well, your opt-out will not affect their mail, so they'd have to go to Optoutprescreen.com and go through the process as well.

In addition, you might still get card offers from companies that do not go through the credit reporting companies to get a mailing list of qualified candidates. So you may also want to opt out from the Direct Mail Association lists at DMAchoice.org.  One nice thing: You can also opt out of other unwanted mail that lands regularly in your mailbox, as well as email solicitations.

If you are getting card offers over the phone (although that's rare), or other unwanted phone solicitations, you can reduce the telemarketing calls by signing up at the federal government's National Do Not Call Registry. It takes 31 days before you see results, but if you're getting a lot of telemarketing calls, it's well worth the wait.

And should you start missing those red carpet mailed offers, you could always opt back in at OptOutPrescreen.com.

Got a question for Eva? Send her an email.