Hi! How frustrating! It’s like being asked to apply for a job or come out for a sports team and then when you make the effort to send your resume or attend the tryout, they say “Sorry – we don’t want you.” Unkind and unfair and unnecessary – you’re just sitting there minding your own business and THEY are the ones who disturb you, ask you to act, dangle a carrot in front of your face … and then say no.
In the case of credit card pre-approval offers, it could be deceptive advertising but it is probably not false advertising. The credit card company establishes their rules for who is going to be approved for their credit cards. They create a list of who to send the pre-approval list based on a general sweep of most or many of their card issuance protocols. So when you get that pre-approved card, it’s LIKELY that you meet the qualification but not definite. When you send in your request for the card, the credit card does a more thorough check on your credit history and if you don’t meet every single requirement, they decline to approve you. So there is a “contract” in a way, as you are asking about, but if you don’t meet the specifications of that “contract” it will not be initiated.
Could you sue? It is not impossible, of course, that a credit card company is discriminating against certain groups or is engaging in false advertising; however, it is probably unlikely. Their card issuance criteria are probably very specific, explicitly written in their policies, and heavily documented and audited.
So it makes sense that you would feel angry and disappointed, but I don’t know that there is any action you can take. I’m sorry. Thank you for writing and looking forward to hearing from you again.
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