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MBNA’s Big & Ugly Card Application

In direct mail, sometimes "big & ugly" beats "short & sweet." But when it comes to preapproved credit card applications, we're pretty sure the 8-screen form posted by Bank of America's FIA Card Services (formerly MBNA) isn't going to help improve response rates (see the full form by clicking the continue link below).

My wife received a preapproved, direct-mail offer from Fidelity Investments where she has an investment account. The solicitation included the usual one-third sheet mail-back "acceptance form." Recipients could also either call a toll-free number, or go online to

Fidelity_mbna_cardapp_firstThose that went online were greeted with this almost-blank screen operating under a different URL and had no reassuring message or graphics to assure users they had not arrived at a phishing site.

Fidelity_mbna_cardapp_subsetAfter entering the 6-digit code from the mailing, prospective cardholders are transported to this boring form, which surprisingly includes MORE fields than its paper-based counterpart (click on inset for closeup; click on continuation below to see the full 800 x 5200 screenshot). For example, it contains a section to be completed by students, who are unlikely to be receiving this particular Fidelity Investments WorldPoints Visa card with no preset spending limits.

Not only are the layout and design dull, but also two major design flaws are readily apparent:

  1. No reinforcement of product benefits above the fold, especially the "0% through Nov. 2007" offer
  2. No division into smaller segments, the first of which should gather the email address

See Online Banking Report #104 for more on application design.

— JB

Endnote: Full online application (820 x 5200)