Special offers stuffed in credit card statements seldom entice customers to use their cards more frequently, according to a new survey.

Almost always the colorful enclosures touting a promotion or service are just discarded or stashed in a drawer.

BAIGlobal Inc. of Tarrytown, N.Y., surveyed 1,700 households-more than half of which responded-to gauge response rates to billing statement enclosures. The market research firm found that only 0.5% of consumers respond to an offer the same month they receive it.

However, 2.2% of respondents put the "statement stuffers" aside to use later. Of those, BAIGlobal said, up to 30% eventually take advantage of the offers.

For example, cardholders may keep a balance transfer check until they need extra cash for a vacation.

Card issuers have gotten into the habit of blitzing their customers with different offers each month.

But the low immediate response rates suggest that "consumers are not seeing a strong enough reason to use their card right away," said Lisa Itzkowitz, director of marketing for BAIGlobal.

By contrast, Ms. Itzkowitz called the passive response rate-the percentage of consumers who squirrel away offers for a later date-"quite high." She said the numbers indicate that "issuers are capturing consumers' attention."

To enhance early response rates, issuers could shorten the time limit on offers or give higher discounts for using coupons during the month they are mailed, Ms. Itzkowitz said.

The most popular and heavily marketed category of stuffer is the special promotion, which includes balance transfer offers, credit line access programs, sweepstakes, travel and entertainment discounts, and other discount coupons. Promotions generate an average weighted passive response rate of 2.7%.

Merchandise offers do nearly as well, with a passive response rate of 2.2%, the survey found. Cardholders are most receptive to these deals during holidays, Ms. Itzkowitz said. Issuers see this type of offer as a way to build relationships with customers.

Fee service offers came in a distant third, with a 0.9% passive response rate. All three categories generate active response rates of about 0.5%, the study found.

It takes a "very sophisticated system" to guide the ways consumers use their cards, Ms. Itzkowitz said. "That is the direction most issuers are moving."

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