Pre-Screened Credit Card Offers: Benefits and Opting Out

From time to time, you may receive credit card offers in the mail, saying you’re pre-approved for a certain card, or offers for other credit products or insurance. You may wonder what they are and where they came from. 

These are called pre-screened credit card offers. By law, the three nationwide credit bureaus may include your name on lists used by creditors if you meet certain, pre-established criteria of the creditor or insurer -- if you have a certain credit score range, for instance. These pre-screened lists are then used to make firm offers of credit or insurance to you. Pre-screened offers must be “firm offers” – meaning they must be honored if you accept – but a creditor or insurer may review your credit after you apply to ensure you still meet the pre-established pre-screen criteria. If you don't meet that criteria for some reason, your application may be declined, but the creditor or insurer is required to tell you why.

What are the benefits of these offers? And what if you don’t want to receive them in the future? Can you “opt out”? How would you do that, and what are your options?

Benefits of pre-screened credit card offers

These pre-screened offers may provide you with product choices and better rates or terms than other offers available in the market. 

Pre-screened inquiries will appear as "soft inquiries" on your credit reports. This means the inquiries, which include the names of the companies that obtained your information, will be visible only to you. They will not be visible to any future lenders or creditors, and will not affect your credit scores.

How to opt out

If you decide you don’t want to receive pre-screened offers, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you to the option to “opt out” – meaning you would no longer receive these types of offers in the future. You can do so online, by phone or by mail.

  • Go to www.optoutprescreen.com. This website is a joint venture among the three nationwide credit bureaus to allow consumers to control pre-screened offers. On the website, you can submit an online request to opt out from receiving offers for five years. You can also download and print a form to mail in to opt out permanently. If you have previously opted out from receiving pre-screened offers and decided you want to receive them again, you can also opt back in. It’s important to note that this website is the only one authorized by the nationwide credit bureaus. Opt Out Prescreen will not reach out to consumers, so any phone call or email from anyone claiming to be from Opt Out Prescreen is fraudulent. 
  • Call the toll free number (888) 5-OPT OUT. 
  • Send a written request. If you prefer to submit your request by mail, you can send a written request to permanently opt out. Learn more about sending written requests and get addresses

What you should know

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are submitting an opt out request:

  • Opting out will not affect your ability to apply for credit or insurance.
  • Opting out will not stop solicitations from local businesses; religious and charitable associations; professional and alumni associations; politicians; and other companies you do business with. To end those solicitations, you should contact those people or organizations directly.
  • Your request will take effect within five days, but you may not see a reduction in the amount of offers for a while. This is because your name may have already been sent to some companies prior to the effective date of your opt out. 
  • You can only submit opt out or opt in requests for yourself, unless you have legal authority to submit such requests on behalf of someone else. 

For additional questions and answers, view the FAQs on the Opt Out Prescreen site.