The Same Card Can Have Different Terms Depending On How You Apply


While some people still fill out credit card applications at retailers or at kiosks like the ones they have at airports, the vast majority of credit card application occur online. This system allows companies to make different offers to different people for various reasons. The problem is that some offers will invariably be better than others. This might work well for the banks, but as a card holder, you really should take the time to make sure you are getting the best possible offer. Here are some ways that different offers are presented to different people:

Two Different Links

Take a look at the following credit card offer:

This does not seem to be such a bad offer. I actually like the Chase Ink card for one of the key benefits that is not highlighted on this page, their Blueprint program. This innovative system allows customers to pay some charges in full without interest while carrying a balance on other charges.

Anyways, take a look at this nearly identical page:

Notice the difference?  The second offer provides 5% cash back on office supplies, telephone, and cable. The first offer provide 3% cash back on some categories of spending, while the second offer is only 2% on some of the same categories including gas and dining.

This is actually an unusual case. Typically the biggest difference between various offers is in the promotional financing or bonus miles/points given out. To find the best offer, you really have to look around the Internet, including any offers you may have received by mail or through email. When you apply online, you should always make sure to capture a screen shot of the offer. It is very common for your application to be coded incorrectly and for cardholders not to be given the terms they applied for.

Targeted Offers

When you receive an offer in the mail or by email that differs from the ones that are seen online, that is called a targeted offer. Sometimes, targeted offers are really open to anyone who has a copy of the link, while others have special codes that make them unique to the recipient. As with other offers, always retain a copy of the terms just in case you never receive your promised benefits.

Variable Acceptance

A relatively new trend is for cards that list several different possible terms that could be granted to an applicant, depending on his or her credit worthiness. Typically, these varying terms have to do with interest rates or promotional financing offers. Barclay’s bank has been known to offer multiple different cards with different sign up bonuses. The problem is that they will decide which card you receive after you have applied. You are essentially wasting a credit check in the hopes that you will receive the more favorable offer. Many people are disappointed when they apply to one card with a great sign up bonus and they actually are sent a different card with a lower bonus. They rightfully feel that they have been subject to a bait and switch.

Using Cookies To Vary Offers

Cookies are electronic files that web sites store in your browser. These files can be used by companies to determine various things about the user who is visiting their site. They can then present different terms to different users for various reasons. According to this article, both Capital One and Discover have been known to do this.


Just like everyone visiting a car dealer will be offered a different price, so may be the case with your next credit card application. Customers need to be aware of the various ways that banks can make different offers to different people. By becoming a savvy credit card user, you can be sure that you always receive the best offer available.



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