One of the seemingly curious fall-outs from the still reverberating subprime mortgage crisis — where credit to ordinary homeowners, even those with top credit ratings, seemed to dry up overnight — is that credit card issuers have stepped up their efforts to convince already pressed American consumers to buy using even higher-priced credit.

Mintel International Group, a Chicago-based consumer, media and market research firm, said in a recent survey that direct mail credit card offers to subprime customers in the United States soared 41% in the first six months of this year compared to the same period in 2006.

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