You may be wondering if canceling a credit card account will hurt your credit score. While it is true that canceling a credit card can impact your credit score, this isn’t always the case.
Even if you’re not using your credit cards, keeping them open is usually a good idea. There are, nevertheless, a few appropriate reasons for closing an account. Continue reading to find out what they are and how to cancel a card correctly.
The Impact of Credit Utilization Ratio
Even if you’re not using your credit cards, there’s a reason why credit experts advise against canceling them.
Because canceling a credit card might affect your credit utilization ratio, this possible score drop is common. According to your credit reports, the ratio determines how much of your total available credit is used. The more accessible credit you use as per your report), the lower your score will be.
Here’s an example of how canceling a credit card with a zero balance might lead to trouble:
- Your first credit card has a limit of $1,000 and a $1,000 balance.
- Your second credit card has a $1,000 limit and no balance.
- The combined credit utilization on both cards is 50%. (50% utilization = $1,000 total balances / $2,000 total limits)
- When you close credit card number two, your credit utilization rises to 100%. (Total balances of $1,000 / total limits of $1,000 = 100% utilization)
Every month, try to pay off your credit card amounts in full. Not only will this safeguard your credit scores, but it will also save you money on interest.
Before canceling a credit card account, make sure you pay off your entire balance. You can close a credit card without harming your credit score if all of your credit cards have $0 balances on your credit reports.
The higher your utilization ratio, the worse your score is likely to be. As a result, it is typically advised to maintain the ratio below 30%.
Valid Reasons to Cancel Your Credit Card
It’s usually a bad idea to cancel a credit card. However, there are some situations in which canceling your credit card is the best option. Here are three of them:
The temptation is high
The temptation to utilize credit cards is too strong for some people to resist. While this may be a reasonable cause to cancel a card for some, there are alternative options for reducing expenditure without jeopardizing your credit score.
You could, for example, take your credit cards out of your wallet and keep them somewhere secure. You may find it simpler to avoid temptation if your cards aren’t readily available.
You won’t be able to reopen the closed account once the credit card is canceled.
High annual fees
If your card issuer charges you a hefty annual fee for a card you don’t use, you should consider canceling the account. But, if the account offers benefits that surpass the yearly charge, such as travel credits and bonuses, the expense may be justified.
Another instance is an annual fee on a credit card that you don’t use or benefit from. Call your card issuer and request that the yearly charge be waived before you cancel the account. Make it clear that you’re thinking about canceling your account.
Divorce or separation
During a separation or divorce, it’s essential to close joint credit card accounts. As a joint cardholder, you’ll be responsible for any charges made on the account in the past or the future. It’s not unusual for a disgruntled ex to rack up hefty charges on a shared credit card.
If that occurs, or if routine spending on a joint account occurs after you’ve separated, the costs will be your responsibility. Although your divorce decision may state that your former spouse is responsible for the debt, this does not relieve you of your responsibilities in the eyes of your lender.
6 Steps to Cancel a Credit Card
If you decide that closing the account is the best option for you, then follow these six easy steps to help you:
- Before you contact to cancel, spend any unused rewards on your account.
- Before canceling any card, try to pay off all of your credit cards and not just the one you’re canceling. At the absolute least, try to keep your balances to a minimum.
- Call your credit card company to deactivate your account and ensure that your balance is zero.
- To close the account, send a certified letter to the card issuer. Request that you be mailed written confirmation of your zero balance and closed account status.
- Check your credit reports 30 to 45 days after cancellation to ensure the cardholder and your balance on terminated the account was zero.
- You should challenge by the major credit bureaus any false information on your credit reports.
Closing a credit card does not affect your credit history
You might have heard that canceling a credit card account results in credit loss for the account’s age. That is, for the most part, a myth. Experts agree that canceling a credit card does not remove it from your credit reports immediately. The only way for the card’s age to lose its value is for it to be erased from your reports.
A closed account can be on your reports for up to seven years if negative or roughly ten years if it’s positive. The account will be considered for the average age of your credit as long as it is on your reports.
Don’t close a credit card account unless there’s a compelling need to do so. If you manage your credit cards correctly, having many credit cards won’t affect your credit score considerably. If you decide you need to cancel a credit card, try to reduce all of your credit card balances first so that any credit score damage is minimized or avoided entirely.