Coalition des associations de consommateurs du Québec (CACQ) - 2009-10

Suite 393
1600 De Lorimier
Montreal, Quebec
H2K 3W5
Tel.: 514-362-8623
Fax: 514-521-7081

1. Unsolicited offers of credit in the mail: between dream and reality


There has been a staggering increase in credit card use in recent years. According to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, Canadians have an average of three credit cards. Over 10 years, the number of Visa and MasterCard credit cards in circulation in Canada more than doubled to 64 million by 2007. Every day, consumers' association officials meet with consumers who are faced with serious financial problems. They find that these people are in possession of a powerful financial instrument but are not very familiar with how it works. In fact, excessive use of credit, including a lack of comprehension of how it works, is one of the reasons most frequently cited when a person declares bankruptcy. According to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, a substantial segment of Canadian consumers have little or no knowledge of interest rates, interest calculation or their responsibilities with respect to credit cards. Consumers are heavily solicited by credit card issuers, which use various direct marketing techniques such as direct mail advertising (unsolicited offers of credit in the mail) to attract new clients.

The questions are as follows:

  • What are the marketing techniques used by credit card issuers to lure consumers?
  • Do offers of credit in the mail contain all the information needed to understand how credit works?
  • What motivates consumers to accept offers of credit received through the mail?

This project is designed first of all to identify, analyze and understand the marketing strategies used by credit card issuers to approach and win over consumers. Next, it aims to analyze the information content of these offers in order to assess whether they contain enough information to allow consumers to make informed decisions. This research project will serve to formulate concrete recommendations to credit issuers and governments for improving understanding of the information contained in postal credit offers.

Expected results

This data will help equip consumers to make responsible choices regarding the acquisition of credit cards.