In the third quarter of 2010 alone, lenders sent out 1.2 billion offers for new credit cards, according to a new study from Mintel Comperemedia. That was an increase from just 391 million in the same period last year. Similarly, most of the offers sent out – about 80 percent – were for cards that carried some sort of rewards program, such as points, airline miles, or cash-back incentives, up from roughly 60 percent in third quarter of 2009.
Credit card issuers also used the opportunity to adapt to new lender norms, such as increased thriftiness. The number of offers for cash-back rewards cards rose to 41 percent in the third quarter of the year, up from 28 percent in the same period in 2009, the report said. Similarly, 45 percent of the offers sent out so far this year specifically mentioned groceries as something that consumers could earn points on. Only 20 percent of these offers emphasized that point in all of 2008.
Consumers have been reluctant to take on more credit card accounts in recent months, and have particularly eschewed rewards accounts because they typically carry higher interest rates and annual fees than their no-frills counterparts.