Are you ever tempted by credit card offers that come in the mail? If so, be careful! Because the promises in the offer don’t always reflect what’s in the fine print. Here are three ways credit card companies get people to sign up for bad deals:

  • Pre-Approval. According to the website CreditNet.com, companies know you’re more likely to accept an offer if you’re “pre-approved.” Still, they don’t have to give you a card unless you meet their minimum lending standards. And if your credit score’s not good, the interest rate you get can be much higher than they promised.
  • Offers for gold, silver, and platinum cards. Consumer finance expert Martha White says the offers stroke your ego by announcing you’ve earned a higher credit limit. But higher limits usually mean higher annual fees. And the higher the limit, the more people spend.

  • Cash back and reward offers. Trent Hamm is the author of The Simple Dollar. And he points out that if you carry a balance, and you’re paying interest on it, then it doesn’t matter how big the rebate is, or how many points you earn. You’re still losing money.

Here’s one thing to keep in mind: you can’t be tempted by a credit card offer you don’t receive. Federal law allows you to opt out of mailings. For more information on opting out of these mailings, click here.