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From the Experts at

Should I Close a Credit Card Account?

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Should I Close a Credit Card Account

When it comes to maintaining good credit scores, closing a credit card account is a bad idea.

When you close a credit card account, you hurt — not help — your credit.

Your credit score looks at a variety of factors including: the length of credit history, which includes the amount of time all of your credit card accounts have been opened; and your credit utilization, which is the amount of available credit that you are currently using.

Maintain the length of your credit history

Length of credit history accounts for 15 percent of a credit score. And when you close a credit card account, the account and its history will eventually disappear from your credit report. (This usually happens within 10 years of closing an account.) And once it’s gone, it can no longer bolster your credit score.

So resist the urge to clean up your credit file by closing credit card accounts. Keep them open and enjoy the benefits of all your years of being a credit customer.

Keep your “credit utilization” low

Your amount of debt makes up about 30 percent of your credit score, and that calculation includes your credit utilization — the percentage of available credit you’re using on each credit card account that you carry, plus the total credit limits and balances of all of your revolving credit card accounts.

You want to keep your overall credit utilization and your credit utilization on each individual revolving card account as low as possible. And that’s why keeping credit card accounts with low balances and big credit lines is so good for your credit score — it keeps your total credit utilization low.

If you a struggling under a mountain of credit card debt, the best thing to do for your credit score and your wallet is to pay down your balances and keep all your current credit lines open.

Wondering about your credit score now that you understand just how important account length and credit utilization can be? Use’s free Credit Report Card to monitor your score. It’s updated every month so you can check your progress as you pay down credit card debt and move your credit utilization to 10 percent or lower, which is ideal.

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  • Gerri Detweiler

    Once your credit is on solid footing to the point where you can get an unsecured card, you can close the one with the fee without any qualms.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    If you are worried about your credit scores, the fact that you have these cards isn’t hurting you and may help. Here’s how to monitor your credit score for free.

  • Lou

    I have 2 cards that I’m considering on closing. Both of which were open around the same time (probably a few months apart) but they aren’t the oldest cards I have. The reasons I’m considering on closing them is because they won’t increase my limits or lower my interest and the limits are the lowest of all the cards I do have so I’m not seeing the point of keeping them open. How long, assuming there aren’t any other changes to my credit file, should it take to recoup any lost points if i choose to close them?

  • Sylvia

    I have a secured credit card with OpenSky which I opened when I was trying to rebuild my credit score (this wasn’t the first secured card I opened).. I still have work to do on my credit but I was hoping to close this account once I get approved for the “unsecured” credit card with my bank being that its the one with less limit and a $30 annual fee. My concern is – will my credit score score suffer if I close it? I have other secured credit cards that are older with much higher limits so this is why I was thinking of closing this one to avoid paying the annual fee.. but I refuse to do it if my score will lower having me in a worse position that what I am now. Thanks

    • Credit Experts

      It could hurt if it causes you to have a higher “credit utilization” — that is the amount of credit you are using vs. the amount available. (To calculate this, add up all your credit limits, and subtract the total of all your balances.) You can hurt your score if the number is higher than 30%; lower than 10% is ideal.

  • Victoria H

    I have an account on my credit report with a bank. I was listed only as an authorized user. Should this even be on my credit if I was only an authorized user?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Yes. But if you get removed as an authorized user you can request it be removed from your credit reports as well.

      • Victoria H

        Thank you Gerri! The bank actually closed the account in 2009 as soon as my husband paid it off. Which was crappy. But with the account being paid and closed, would they still be able to remove me as an authorized user?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          I would suspect with it being so old that if you disputed it, it may just not get confirmed and come off the report. If not then you may have to try to go that route. Is there negative account info? How old are those negative remarks?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    My suggestion is keep this card for as long as you need it to get an unsecured card. Once you have at least a few months of the unsecured card under your belt you can consider closing the secured card. But don’t close it until you have another card. Make sense?

  • Donna Tucker

    I have some credit cards in collection, I am planning to pay them off should I request that they be removed from my credit report or ask them to list them as paid? Which one will help increase my score?

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  • Meet Our Expert

    lucy_lazarony GravatarLucy Lazarony is a freelance personal finance writer. Her articles have been featured on Bankrate, MoneyRates, MSN Money, and The National Endowment for Financial Education. Prior to freelancing, she worked as a staff writer for Bankrate for seven years. She earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Florida and spent a summer as an international intern at Richmond, The American International University in London. She lives in South Florida.
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