How to reopen a closed credit card account

Man on computer looking up how to reopen a closed credit card accountImage: Man on computer looking up how to reopen a closed credit card account

In a Nutshell

Whether your issuer closed the account or you did it yourself, it may be possible to reopen a closed credit card account if you call your issuer and ask.
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It may be possible to reopen a closed credit card account, depending on the credit card issuer, as well as why and how long ago your account was closed.

But there’s no guarantee that the credit card issuer will reopen your account. For example, Discover says it won’t reopen closed accounts at all. But it may be worth asking other issuers if you’d like to reopen your account. Here’s how.

1. Figure out why the account was closed
2. Gather the relevant documentation
3. Call the issuer’s customer service line
4. Ask for the account to be reopened

1. Figure out why the account was closed

If you didn’t close your account yourself, it’s possible that your credit card issuer did. 

Ultimately, your issuer likely has the ability to close your account at any time. Here are some reasons why an account may be closed. 

  • Inactivity
  • Defaulting on your credit card debt
  • The credit card company’s business needs change (this could have nothing to do with how you’ve used the card)

If your account was closed because it remains unpaid by a certain number of days, it’s known as a charge-off. Keep in mind that regardless of the reason your account was closed, if you owe money on your card, you still need to pay back the debt. 

2. Gather the relevant documentation

Make sure you have some key pieces of information handy, including …

  • The physical credit card from the closed account, if you still have it
  • A credit card statement from the closed account may also have the account number
  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your Social Security number

3. Call the issuer’s customer service line

If you still have your card, there may be a customer service number on the back. If you don’t have the card anymore, you might be able to find a phone number on the issuer’s website or an old credit card statement.

4. Ask for the account to be reopened

Once you’re on the line with customer service, let them know that you’d like to reopen your closed account. If you closed the account yourself and you’ve changed your mind, explain why you’d like to reopen it. If your account was closed for another reason, you may need to state your case. 

Be prepared that you might hear a “no” — credit card companies aren’t required to reopen closed credit card accounts.

It’s important to be clear that you’re looking to reopen the closed account and not open a brand-new account with the same card. You may be asked to authorize a hard credit inquiry to reopen the closed account, which could cause a dip in your credit scores. 

How long does a closed account stay on your credit?

How long a closed account stays on your credit reports depends on whether your account was delinquent when it was closed. 

A charge-off will show on your reports for seven years from when the account went delinquent, or when you started missing payments.

An account that was closed “in good standing” — with no late payments and your balance paid off — could show up in your credit history for 10 years.  

Does a closed account hurt your credit?

There are a couple of ways that a closed account could hurt your credit. 

  • Higher credit utilization rate — Your credit utilization rate represents how much of your available credit you’re using at any given time, and it’s an important factor in your credit scores. A closed account may increase your utilization rate by lowering the total amount of credit you have available.
  • Lower the average age of accounts — The length of your credit history is another factor that affects your credit scores. If the closed account was open for a long time, that could lower the average age of your accounts.
  • Credit mix — Having different types of credit in your credit history — whether that’s credit cards or an auto loan — can have a positive impact on your credit. Closing an account may affect your credit mix negatively depending on what type of credit it is.

A charge-off is considered a derogatory mark. So if your account was closed because your debt has been charged off, that can hurt your credit. 

What’s next?

If you’re able to reopen your account, make sure you keep your credit card accounts active.

If you aren’t able to reopen your account, there are still some steps you may want to consider taking to mitigate the impact of the closed account on your credit. 

About the author: Casey Hollis is a managing editor at Credit Karma, specializing in credit card reviews and education. Throughout her career in writing and editing informational content — from health news and advice at … Read more.