This week, I got an email from TPG reader Gene asking a question that is on a lot of people’s minds:
“Can you address the question of “targeting” and why some people are and some are not targeted for big credit card bonuses or discounts like the latest Amex promotion with hotel gift cards at the reduced level of 9600 points. I am sure you have other readers like myself who have not been recipients of this ‘targeting’ and yet like myself, spend a substantial amount with Amex each month (about $20,000-$30,000 average per month for me). Yet I get nothing. I have contacted Amex numerous times and they are totally brain dead with their responses.”
While most people toss out snail mail credit card offers, I always open them with as much fervor as someone trying to get Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. Credit card companies, airlines, hotels (and pretty much any other company) know that word spreads instantly in the internet age, so they’ve resorted to running niche targeted promotions, often via US Mail, to protect themselves in the case that the promotion goes viral. Why do they do this? There are a lot of reasons, but mostly to generate revenue among a target population. After all, marketing budget may not be able to handle everyone getting in on the offer, but they perhaps want to entice a certain population to spend/stay/fly more.
There’s not a whole lot you can do to be considered for targeted promotions, but I have two pieces of advice:
1) Make sure you are signed up to receive marketing emails. I know we are accustomed to opting out of emails, but I always read my credit card/airline/hotel emails, because once in a while a great deal comes through.
To change your email preferences with American Express, login -> Profile & Preferences -> Update Contact Information -> General Marketing Email Preferences. Make sure you have the “New Card & Credit Offers” tab under American Express Services checked off.
2) Always ask to be considered for a targeted offer. While most companies will shut you down if you ask to be included, it never hurts to ask. Sometimes you might even be targeted, but never received the notification so I always try to sign up anyway – can’t hurt.