How to Cancel a Credit Card: Our 5-Step Guide

Put the scissors down.

Although you might be prepared to cancel your charge card, it’s not as simple as merely cutting the card in small pieces (although that is among the actions).

It’s essential to cancel a charge card properly, so you don’t get struck with unanticipated costs or find 3 months later on that the number’s been taken.

Should You Cancel Your Credit Card?

If you’ve just recently settled your charge card, it might appear like an excellent concept to cancel it, too — specifically if you don’t mean to utilize it any longer. However, you ought to consider this relocation thoroughly, due to the fact that it can have an effect on your credit history.

Why Closing Your Credit Card Account Might Be a Bad Idea

Credit cards typically get a bum rap — and truly so, if you’re paying double-digit interest and getting struck with late costs. But for those who’ve utilized their credit properly, canceling an account can harm your credit history. Here’s how.

Payment history

Your payment history represent around 35% of your credit history. Making charge card payments on time each month favorably adds to this.

Eliminate the card, and you lower the variety of accounts that count towards your on-time payments.

Credit usage

This might be the greatest argument for keeping your charge card.

The credit usage ratio represents just how much of your readily available credit you in fact utilize. To determine yours, divide what you owe throughout all your charge account (think: charge card and other line of credit like a house equity credit line) by the overall credit line for those accounts.

Closing a charge card might send your rating up — method up.

For example, let’s state you had 2 charge card — each with a credit line of $8,000. On the very first card, you had a balance of $4,000; on the 2nd card, you had a balance of $1,000. Your credit usage ratio was $5,000/$16,000 = .3125 or 31.25%

Most specialists advise a credit usage ratio of 30% or less, so your rating is not terrific.

Then you settled the 2nd charge card’s balance, which enhanced your ratio to 25% ($4,000/$16,000).

But if you closed the 2nd charge card account, your credit usage ratio would escalate to 50% ($4,000/$8,000).

Considering credit usage counts for around 30% of your rating, it’s a sensible concept to keep an account open if you wish to keep your use ratio low.

Length of credit rating

Closing a charge card that you’ve had for years will decrease the typical age of your accounts in your credit rating, which contributes around 15% to your rating. And you can’t change history quickly — that just features keeping an account with time.

Why Closing Your Credit Card Account Might Be a Good Idea

So what would be an excellent factor to close a charge card account? Losing the costs.

Many charge card charge a yearly cost, and if you’re not utilizing the card, it doesn’t make much sense to continue paying a charge.

How to Cancel a Credit Card

After weighing the advantages and disadvantages, if you still wish to cancel your charge card, we have a detailed guide for doing it in such a way that will conserve you from handing over additional costs and secure you from having your old account number taken.

1. Pay Off or Transfer the Remaining Balance

If you still have a charge card balance, the very first thing you require to do is ascertain to no. You can do that either by paying it off or moving the balance to another card.

Want to close a card when it still has a balance? You can ask your charge card company to freeze your account so you can’t make any brand-new charges, however you’ll need to keep paying till the balance is $0.

Next, you’ll require to cancel any repeating payments you have actually established for the account. It’s finest to collect a minimum of a year’s worth of previous declarations to evaluate what accounts are connected to your card. That method you won’t be stuck to a late cost due to the fact that your yearly house insurance coverage premium didn’t earn money.

Pro Tip

Check your charge card subscription renewal date so you can time closing the card prior to paying the yearly cost.

Even if you believe you’ve kept in mind every account connected to the card, it’s finest to wait a minimum of a couple months and as much as a year to prevent surprises.

After you’ve settled the staying balance, you’ll wish to continue inspecting your declarations for the next couple months to prevent any recurring interest you might have accumulated.

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2. Use up Your Rewards

If you have benefits points on your card, you ought to utilize those prior to canceling the card. This is in some cases simpler stated than done — if you have a travel rewards charge card and don’t have strategies to take a trip anytime quickly, you may believe the points are useless.. However, some providers are extending the time prior to your points end. You can utilize the points now to schedule a future journey.

For example, with cards that permit you to sell points for a particular airline company or hotel travel benefit program, you might have the ability to continue to belong of the program (and utilize those points) even after the card is closed.

Cards with versatile points might provide a money back worth or you might have the ability to move the indicate another card that utilizes the very same program or invest a minimum of a few of the points on present cards rather.

Pro Tip

If you haven’t currently figured it out, you can’t correctly close a charge card account in a day (and even a month). Look at the time as “cooling off period” to guarantee this is an excellent monetary choice.

The just method to understand for sure: Review your charge card benefits contract.

The point is, you might not have the ability to redeem points for what you initially planned, however you’ll lose any leftovers when you close the account.

3. Contact Customer Service to Close the Account

Are you strong enough to state no? And should you?

After you’ve settled your balance and consumed your benefits, you’re prepared to close the account, which implies calling your charge card charge card company.

Those business don’t like to lose clients — specifically great ones who pay their expenses on time — so don’t anticipate them to quit quickly.

The agent you speak with will likely attempt to encourage you to remain by informing you that you’re gotten approved for benefit benefits, get approved for a lower rate of interest or can have your yearly cost waived.

Pro Tip

You can discover the number for your charge card company’s client service department by searching the back of your charge card — yet another factor not to cut up the plastic too early.

If you’re canceling the card merely due to the fact that of the yearly cost, this prospective deal might be enough of a factor to call the company.

But if you’re definitely particular you wish to close the account, a number of company, “Thanks, but no — I’m certain” actions ought to shut them down.

Before you hang up, demand composed verification that the account is closed with a $0 balance. This assists avoid nasty surprise costs or damage to your credit history for non-payment. When you get the letter, keep it in your files in case a financial obligation collector attempts to encourage you years later on that you owe on zombie financial obligation.

If you don’t get the verification letter within a couple of weeks, send your own composed cancellation letter.

Include your name, address and account number, and state in the letter that you would like your account closed and for the business to validate you have a $0 balance — send it by licensed mail to validate the business got the letter.

4. Check Your Credit Report

Remember to examine your credit report for evidence that the business closed the account with a $0 balance.

You can — and ought to — get your credit report every year from the Big Three credit reporting companies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. You can buy yours totally free every 12 months through the site

Make sure each of the reports lists your charge card account as closed and the account status as paid — once again, you might wish to wait a couple of weeks (or months) to make sure the charge card business reported the account was closed.

A woman cuts up credit cards
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5. Cut Up the Old Card

When you ruin your charge card, make sure to slice it so that neither your name nor your account number appear on a single piece which you cut through the magnetic strip. (You can likewise utilize most shredders to get the wanted result). This assists make sure no unpleasant types can dig the card out of the garbage and effort to utilize the old account.

Pro Tip

Some charge card are made from metal and hence cannot be cut up. Contact your card company about how to correctly ruin the card.

Frequently Asked Questions (Frequently Asked Questions) About Canceling Credit Cards

We’ve discovered the responses to the most frequently asked concerns about canceling charge card.

Will Canceling a Credit Card Hurt My Credit?

Not straight, no. However, it can indirectly lower your credit history by decreasing the overall credit you have readily available (and hence your credit usage ratio) and the typical age of your accounts. These can have an unfavorable effect on your rating.

Can I Close a Credit Card With a Balance?

Yes, you can. However, you’re still accountable for settling the balance, which balance can still accumulate interest. Closing the card avoids you from utilizing it — which can in fact be a good idea if you deal with self-discipline — and keeps you from being charged a yearly cost.

Can I Cancel My Credit Card Online?

It’s not likely you will have the ability to cancel your charge card without talking with somebody. You can utilize a chat function or send out a protected message from your account. However, there’s normally no “Cancel” button or other method to cancel a card without talking with somebody in some capability. This makes good sense, because this is how the card business generate income — they have a beneficial interest in getting you to keep the card.

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a deputy editor at The Penny Hoarder. Contributor Dave Schafer upgraded this report.


A news media journalist always on the go, I've been published in major publications including VICE, The Atlantic, and TIME.

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