Personal finance predictions for 2010: Your mail

Notice a certain roominess in your mailbox in 2009? It isn't your imagination, but those credit card offers will start flowing again in 2010, experts say.

"Expect to see an increase in mail volume after Feb. 22 (when the Credit CARD Act takes effect), driven in part by Act-compliant offers," says Andrew Davidson of Mintel Comperemedia. "Initially, that increase may be slow as issuers keep a close watch on the competition. That game of wait-and-see" will continue into 2011, he says.

Any increase would mark a sharp reversal of recent trends. Credit card direct mail offers plunged from 1.4 billion in the third quarter of 2008 to just 391 million in the fall of 2009, Davidson says.

"The entire industry is down a whopping 71 percent from a year ago. Capital One, Chase and Citi showed the steepest declines. Capital One fell to eighth place, unheard of by this major mailer," says Davidson.

Major factors for the mail decline include the recession (who needs another card?), adverse public perception of credit cards in general, and growing consolidation within the card industry; Bank of America and Discover dominate the general card market; American Express, Chase and Citi the premium rewards market; First Premier the subprime market; and Barclay and HSBC the plain vanilla market.

However, spurred by the CARD Act's reforms, that decline should end soon, leaving your mailbox a little more crowded in 2010.

Next in the countdown, 2: Your ID 

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