Internet marketing is the least expensive way for credit card issuers to pick up new customers, but it may not be the best, said investment banker Robert K. Hammer.

Mr. Hammer, who specializes in arranging credit card portfolio sales, examined the channels card issuers use to gain accounts. His research was based on responses from 1,200 lenders. He concluded that more traditional account-acquisition methods, such as buying portfolios, currently yield more stable and profitable cardholders.

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