How To Cancel A Credit Card Without Hurting Your Credit Score

Say you’ve got a credit card you don’t want for whatever reason and have decided to cancel it. Here are some simple steps you can take to make sure the card a) really gets canceled b) it doesn’t harm your credit score.

How To Cancel A Credit Card:

Step 1: Pay off the card in full.

Step 2: Call Customer Service to make sure the balance is really zero. Interest may have still been accumulating.

Step 3: Once the balance is zero, cancel the account over the phone. Feel free to entertain any retention offers they might throw at you. That’s always fun.

Step 4: Follow up in writing and ask for written confirmation that the account is closed. Keep a copy of this stuff for your records. You never know when you might need it.

Step 5: Wait awhile, then check your credit report to make sure the account is really closed. Don’t do this the day after you close it, sometimes it takes awhile. Also, use to check your reports for free. Don’t use any fake free credit report offers.

What about my credit score? Recently FICO, the company that calculates credit scores, came out and debunked the very, very pervasive myth that closing a credit card account shortens your credit history and hurts your score. So, don’t worry about that.

What may affect your score, however, is your credit utilization ratio. FICO explains it this way: “This ratio basically looks at your total used credit in relation to your total available credit; the higher this ratio is, the more it can negatively affect your FICO score. So, by closing an old or unused card, you are essentially wiping away some of your available credit and there by increasing your credit utilization ratio.”

“To close card accounts without impacting one’s credit score, you need to only have zero balances on your credit report for all of your active credit cards. That’s because if you have zero balances your credit utilization rate is therefore zero, and you can’t raise it — and potentially hurt your score — by closing one or more of the active card accounts,” says Craig Watts, public affairs manager for FICO.

So if you’ve got zero balances, go ahead and close that account. If not, figure out how much it will affect your credit utilization ratio and decide that way.

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