How to Close Credit Cards You Don't Use

Canceling cards with high interest rates can positively affect your finances.

Canceling cards with high interest rates can positively affect your finances.

Closing a credit card account requires more than hacking the card into pieces -- it requires a process that will do the least amount of damage to your credit and your wallet. Closing a credit card that you don’t use has several benefits, such as protecting yourself from the possibility of identity theft and avoiding the urge to spend. Eliminating a card with a high interest rate or annual fee might offer some relief to your conscious and wallet. You just need to know whom to contact and what to expect.

Pay your balance in full before informing the issuer of your decision to close the account. Most credit card companies have universal default clauses, which allow the issuer to reevaluate your credit report and adjust interest rates according to your credit score and risk profile. If you pay off the balance first, no red flags will go off when future creditors look into your credit history.

Check the back of the credit card for a phone number of the issuer. Get the address of the issuer from a recent bill or the issuer's website.

Call the issuer and assure the balance on the credit card is zero. Some credit card companies charge residual interest, which is the accrued interest during the period between your statement issue date and the date the balance was paid in full. If your card does hold a balance, request the final payoff amount and make the payment immediately.

Inform the lender you are calling to cancel your card. Some companies will allow you to close the account without hassle, while others will attempt to retain you as a customer.

Ask the representative for the name and address of a person you can write to with the notice of your card cancellation request.

Keep a log of your conversation that includes the date, time and the name of the representative. Tell the representative to note in his report the account is being closed at your request.

Request a written confirmation letter to verify the account is closed. This letter must go to the person whose name you received in step 5. Include your account number, name, address and phone number. Include the details of the initial cancellation phone call, proof of final payoff, and state the account was "closed at the consumer's request."

Make a copy of the letter and any other documents. Send the letter by certified mail as proof of your request.

Tip

  • Obtain a copy of your credit report to ensure the account is marked as "Closed." A credit card company might take up to three months to close an account. If the account is not closed within three months, contact the credit card company to report the error.

About the Author

Angela M. Wheeland specializes in topics related to taxation, technology, gaming and criminal law. She has contributed to several websites and serves as the lead content editor for a construction-related website. Wheeland holds an Associate of Arts in accounting and criminal justice. She has owned and operated her own income tax-preparation business since 2006.

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