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Card companies focus on the wealthy

Issuers market new premium cards

By Karen Datko Sep 10, 2009 3:14PM

This post comes from James Limbach at partner site


If you're an affluent American, chances are you've seen more offers of MasterCard World or Visa Signature -- the so-called premium credit cards -- in your mailbox recently.


Mintel Comperemedia, a provider of direct-marketing information, reports that credit card issuers are advertising more premium cards in an effort to attract the best customers.


In the second quarter of this year, credit card issuers sent 28% more marketing direct-mail offers for premium cards than they did the quarter before. This occurred even as issuers reduced credit card offers as a whole by 8%.


Even more, credit card companies have sent a steady number of premium card offers since early 2008 while slashing direct mail for general cards. In the first half of 2009, premium cards accounted for 19% of mail campaigns tracked by Mintel, compared with just 9% in the first half of last year.


"Credit card companies are competing to attract people with high credit scores and big spending habits," said Andrew Davidson, senior vice president of Mintel. "Because premium credit cards often have high associated fees and low risk, issuers see them as an excellent way to restore profitability in today's economy."


Credit card issuers are also competing by introducing new premium cards. High-profile cards launched since the beginning of the downturn include Chase Sapphire, the Visa Black Card and the American Express Hilton Honors Surpass Card.


Mintel's Davidson sees the focus on premium cards as positive. "Credit card issuers are beginning to expand with more credit and products for the affluent," he said. "It won't be long before this trickles down and we start seeing greater credit card marketing to all consumers."


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