How to Reactivate an Inactive Credit Card

Keep debt in check by using a reactivated card for necessary purchases.

Keep debt in check by using a reactivated card for necessary purchases.

You may have moved into a new place, and you're wondering if you can buy some things for your home with a credit card you haven't used for months. The amount of time it takes for a card to be considered inactive due to lack of use varies among creditors. If the account is still open, reactivating it won't require getting a new card. Creditors sometimes close inactive accounts because they aren’t earning money from them.

Call the card issuer at the phone number on the back of the inactive credit card to determine if the account is still open. Find out what the card’s credit limit is, because the issuer may have lowered your limit for not using the card. Ask about the interest rate, annual fee and potential rewards associated with the card to understand its costs and benefits. Make purchases with the inactive card to reactivate it if the account is still open.

Buy items you need with the inactive card so you won’t make unnecessary purchases that increase your debt. Pay off the balance on the card each month to avoid paying interest charges. Take advantage of any rewards the card offers for your regular purchases. For example, use the card to buy groceries if the card issuer offers cash-back rewards for grocery purchases. In any case, use the card regularly to prevent it from becoming inactive again.

Keep the balance on your reactivated card well below the credit limit even if you pay off the balance each month. Thirty percent of your FICO credit score is affected by how much of your available credit you use. Don't max out your reactivated card and risk lowering your credit score. Try to use less than 30 percent of the credit line on a reactivated card to avoid damaging your credit rating.

Tip

  • Reactivating an inactive account can boost your credit score if you consistently pay the bill on time.

About the Author

Frances Burks has more than 15 years experience in writing positions, including work as a news analyst for executive briefings and as an Associated Press journalist. Burks has banking and business development experience, and she has written numerous articles on consumer issues and home improvement. Burks holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Michigan.

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