Credit Cards Credit Cards 101 Find out If You Should You Close an Unused Credit Card By LaToya Irby LaToya Irby Facebook Twitter LaToya Irby is a credit expert who has been covering credit and debt management for The Balance for more than a dozen years. She's been quoted in USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, and the Associated Press, and her work has been cited in several books. learn about our editorial policies Updated on March 30, 2022 Reviewed by Charlene Rhinehart Reviewed by Charlene Rhinehart Twitter Website Charlene Rhinehart is an expert in accounting, banking, investing, real estate, and personal finance. She is a CPA, CFE, Chair of the Illinois CPA Society Individual Tax Committee, and was recognized as one of Practice Ignition's Top 50 women in accounting. She is the founder of Wealth Women Daily and an author. learn about our financial review board Share Tweet Pin Email In This Article View All In This Article Unused Credit Cards Are At Risk Don't Lose a Credit Score Boost A Card With a One-Time Discount When the Cost Outweighs the Benefit Do You Have Better Credit Cards? Steps to Close a Credit Card Photo: © Image Source / Image Source / Getty As you get new credit cards or you begin to pay off debt and cut back on credit card usage, some of your credit cards may go unused. Is it worth it to keep these credit cards or should you close unused credit cards? Creditors May Close An Unused Credit Card Some credit card issuers proactively close inactive credit cards after the cards have gone unused for a certain period of time. The specific time period varies by credit card issuer, but after 12 months of no use, it’s safe to assume your credit card is at risk of being closed. If you don’t want that to happen, use your credit card at least once a quarter to keep it active and open. Don't Lose a Credit Score Boost Credit cards play a major role in helping you build a good credit score. A credit card with a large amount of available credit can help boost your credit score because it lowers your credit utilization – the ratio of your credit card balances to their credit limits. Closing a credit card with available credit could hurt your credit score by removing that open credit from the credit utilization calculation. Age of credit is another factor to that comes into play when you’re considering whether to close an unused credit card. Having old accounts on your credit report helps your credit score because it shows that you have more experience with credit. Note Credit bureaus will report credit cards closed in good standing for about 10 years, so take that into consideration when you’re deciding whether to close a credit card. Ditch the Credit Card You Used for a Discount Offering a same-day discount on purchases is a retail stores' favorite way to incentivize credit card signups. You wouldn't be the first person to sign up for a store credit card solely for the discount or to take advantage of an interest-free period, especially on a large purchase. Since the best perks are offered to new customers, there's little reason to keep a store credit card open. Once you've paid off the balance, closing one of these credit cards won’t cause too much damage to your credit score. Plus, retail credit cards, especially those that aren’t co-branded with a major credit card issuers, typically aren’t the best credit cards to have in your wallet. When the Cost Outweighs the Benefit While leaving a credit card open can help your credit score, it’s not always worth it. For example, if you have an unused credit card that’s charging you a high annual fee, you should use it or close it. Paying a fee on a credit card you’re not using is a waste of money. Do You Have Better Credit Cards? What counts as “too many credit cards” may vary from one person to the next. We don’t know the exact number of credit cards that are best for your credit score. But, if your credit cards are unmanageable, closing the ones you aren’t using will make it easier to keep your finances on track. Steps to Close Your Unused Credit Cards If you ultimately decide to close an unused credit card, it’s best to pay off the balance first. Then, call your credit card issuer and request to have the credit card closed. You can follow up with a letter reiterating your desire to close your credit card. In a few months, check your credit report to confirm the credit card is reported as closed. Note Before closing a credit card make sure it's not your oldest account, your only account, or the account with the highest credit limit. Keep a credit card like this open and active to maintain a good credit score. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Equifax Knowledge Center. "Inactive Credit Card: Use it or Lose it," myFICO. "When Do Credit Card Issuers Close Down Inactive Accounts," Experian. "When Are Closed Accounts Deleted," Credit One Bank. "How Many Credit Cards Are Too Many,"