Closing old and unused credit accounts can help you avoid unnecessary fees and guard against identity theft. However, it can also cause your credit score to drop if you aren't careful. Here are a few do's and don'ts for closing those dormant accounts:
- Consider closing unused cards that are costing you money. If your card has an extraordinarily high interest rate or an abundance of fees, and your provider isn't willing to lower your rate or waive some fees, you may want to consider closing the card - especially if you don't use it.
- Be aware that you can usually cancel accounts that have an active balance by asking your creditor to close the account to new charges while you continue to pay down the balance each month. This may be a good way for heavy credit users to prevent new spending while they are reducing their balances. However, watch out for additional fees.
- Aim to keep some accounts open. This is generally recommended to keep your credit score and debt balances healthy. Signs of active and responsible credit use are viewed positively by creditors.
- Remember to check your credit reports for updates and errors after you close accounts. You should generally wait 30 to 60 days for the creditor and credit bureaus to update your records. While the accounts and their payment histories may stay on your report for seven or more years, the status should be updated to reflect that they are closed.
- Close the oldest account on your credit reports. This could cause your credit history to appear shorter, which may harm your credit score.
- Just throw away old cards and expect your accounts to close automatically. The safest way to close an account is to send a certified letter to the customer service department of the creditor. Typically, you should receive an account closing confirmation letter in 10 days.
- Be pressured to cancel several accounts all at once. If you want to cancel numerous credit accounts, spacing the closures over time could reduce the chance of attracting negative suspicion from potential creditors.
- Over-consolidate balances onto one card. A good rule of thumb is to keep your credit balances under 30 percent of your available limits if possible.
If you have any more questions, head over to our Community, where you can ask other Credit Karma members about various financial topics.
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