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Tired of credit card offers flooding your mailbox? While these preapproved offers may be helpful if you're in the market for a new card, they can be a nuisance when you're not. The good news is you can stop getting these offers anytime by opting out. Read on to find out how to stop receiving credit card offers in the mail.
How to Opt Out of Credit Card Offers in the Mail
Credit card offers can end up in your mailbox a few different ways, most commonly as a marketing tactic by credit card issuers. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allows credit reporting agencies including Experian, TransUnion and Equifax to provide credit card companies with a list of people who meet the credit requirements to prequalify for specific cards. Credit card issuers then use this information to send preapproved or prescreened credit card offers to consumers, also called "firm offers" of credit.
There are benefits to receiving firm offers in the mail. Preapproved credit card offers provide you with valuable information about which cards you're likely to qualify for, helping you stay plugged in to the credit marketplace. Some issuers also offer prescreened consumers exclusive rewards, terms and deals unavailable to the general public.
That said, there are also valid reasons to opt out. If you're not interested in applying for a new credit card, want to cut back on paper clutter or prefer comparing credit cards online, opting out of prescreened offers might be the right choice for you.
When you opt out of receiving credit card solicitations, the credit bureaus stop providing your credit information to credit card issuers. You can choose to opt out for five years or permanently, and there are three free and easy ways to do it:
Opt Out Online
If you've decided to opt out of receiving credit card offers in the mail, the simplest way to do so is to go to OptOutPrescreen.com, the official credit bureau opt-out site. Press the "Click Here to Opt-In or Opt-Out" at the bottom of the screen and follow the instructions to complete the form.
Note that while you aren't required to provide your Social Security number and date of birth, this information remains confidential and helps ensure your request is processed successfully. Then, select either "Electronic Opt-Out for 5 years" or "Permanent Opt-Out by Mail."
If you choose to opt out permanently, you'll need to print out the Notice of Election to Opt Out form, sign it and send it via U.S. mail to:
P.O. Box 530200
Atlanta, GA 30353
Opt Out by Phone
To opt out by phone, call 888-5-OPT-OUT (888-567-8688). You'll be asked to provide your name and address to stop receiving credit card offers. You'll also be asked for your Social Security number and date of birth.
If you choose to opt out permanently, you'll receive the Notice of Election to Opt Out form via mail. Sign and return it via mail to finalize your request.
Opt Out of Direct Mailing
Opting out via the credit bureaus' official opt-out site will only affect credit card mail from issuers that use the list compiled by national credit reporting agencies.
If you'd like to stop receiving marketing mail altogether, consider opting out of direct mail marketing to limit mail from companies trying to sell you a product or service. To stop receiving direct mail, visit the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) website at DMAChoice.org, or call 212-768-7277.
How Long Does It Take Before I Stop Getting Prescreened Offers?
Once you opt out by phone or online, your request will be processed in five days or less. At that point, your name will be removed from the credit bureaus' firm offer consumer list.
You may continue to receive some credit card offers for several weeks because some credit card issuers may already have begun the prescreening process for your credit offer before your request was processed. You may also continue to receive credit mail from credit card companies you've worked with before.
Lastly, opting out of credit card offers will only stop mail from issuers that use the lists compiled by the major credit bureaus. It won't prevent credit issuers from accessing your information from other sources.
Does Opting Out of Prescreened Offers Hurt My Credit Score?
Opting out of receiving prescreened offers in the mail will neither harm nor help your credit score or impact your credit history in any way. It also won't prevent you from browsing for credit products online or applying for a new credit card.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, whether to opt out of prescreened credit offers is your call. You can opt out if you don't want to be bogged down by various offers, or you can choose to keep getting offers that keep you in the loop on your credit card matches—which may help you choose your next card.
If you want to cut down on paper clutter but you're worried that opting out of credit card offers will jeopardize your ability to compare cards, consider using Experian's CreditMatch™ marketplace to easily find offers matched to your credit profile, empowering you to compare your best options.
Opting back in to receiving credit card offers in the mail is easy to do. So, if you aren't interested in receiving prescreened offers at this time, you can opt out now and opt back in at any time by visiting the same site you visited to opt out, OptOutPrescreen.com—or by calling the toll-free number, 888-567-8688.