A study, carried out by two professors at MIT, examined more than a million different credit card offers that consumers received in the mail from 1999 to 2011. After analyzing the marketing materials, the card offers, and the financial standing of the consumers who received these offers, the results showed that credit card offers are often tailored to the individual in subtle ways.
Individuals who received offers that highlighted the rewards programs and used images of tropical islands and other exotic destinations were usually those consumers who were financially stable and had a history of making good financial decisions. Consumers who received offers advertising low interest rates were most likely those that credit card companies considered less financially sound.
As well as this basic analysis, it also appeared that credit card companies had targeted perceived weaknesses when sending out card offers. Those consumers that they believed to be not as financially savvy were often sent offers for credit cards containing complex rewards programs with higher fees and rates.
The card offers sent to those consumers that the companies considered to be more educated had more upfront fees and interest rates, but the late fees were lower, and many offered the option of redeeming points for airline miles.
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