In the Cards

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Active Internet users who said yes to online solicitations by credit-card issuers are younger on average than Internet users overall, 35.6 years vs. 38.1 years. This suggests, says Bruce Brittain, president of Brittain Associates, that card issuers haven't identified younger potential customers quite as comprehensively as they have older prospects. As a result, younger people have sought out credit cards online rather than responding to offers they get in the mailbox.

Although card issuers say many online applications are submitted by people who are completely uncreditworthy, the online market overall appears to be bringing in solid business. In a study of 700 Internet users, the average income of people who acquired an online marketed card was $56,315 vs. $54,833 for average active Internet users. People who signed up for a card online were more likely to be white (81 percent vs. 75 percent), and more likely to live on the West Coast: 26 percent of those who signed up for a card online live in California, Oregon, or Washington, compared with 21 percent of other active Net users.

"The 1999 Credit Cards on the Internet Report" also found that Americans spent more than $6.5 billion in online purchases during the 1998 holiday season, with more than 90 percent charged on credit cards. About half of all online shoppers say they use a single card online.

Favorite issuers for online purchasing included the biggest names in the business: First USA was used 25 percent of the survey's 189 respondents; American Express, 16 percent; Citibank, 13 percent; and Discover, 9 percent.

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