You're probably right. I was reading something recently about how Microsoft pays people to use Bing as a search engine and thinking "the people who sign up for this are geting paid a pittance for telling Microsoft precisely how to target them for ads."
Ha ha, I use Bing. I figure I'm going to be searching anyway, and whoever I search through will be gathering my data for one thing or another, so I might as well get paid for it - and I sure do enjoy my $5 Amazon gift cards every few weeks
As long as you know what you're getting into, it's your choice. Personally, I search with Duck Duck Go and use web browsers that disable trackers whenever possible.
I know that they do not put inquiry on reports!
How do you know this? Soft pulls are used for these. Are you pulling your reports directly from the CRA's so you can see the soft pulls or are you only looking at hard pulls?
American Express is the ONLY company that list any prequalified cards for me, so is that because my credit report is only good enough for American Express (I somehow doubt this) or because everyone else got the opt-out memo except Amex? And if the latter is true, how did it happen?
No. Don't rely on prequals. A prequal doesn't guarantee qualification. Lack of a prequal doesn't guarantee denial if you apply. Not opting out doesn't mean that you'll get prequals from every creditor out there.
They're just marketing so treat them as such.