If you find yourself in the unpleasant position of having your credit card canceled, there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. You can call the customer service department of your card issuer and complain until you're blue in the face, but you'll stand little to no chance of having your credit card reinstated. Your card issuer isn't even under any obligation to tell you why it took the action it did. The agreement you signed with your creditor gives it carte blanche to cut you off whenever it sees fit.
The terms and conditions you agreed to when you took out your credit card allow the provider to alter your contract as and when it pleases. This gives card issuers the discretion to increase the amount of interest you're charged on any balance you carry, raise the minimum payment you have to make each month and cancel your account completely.
Creditors cancel cards for a host of reasons. Your account could be terminated due to inactivity, a drop in your credit score, extra debt you've taken on that alters your credit utilization ratio, market conditions and the general state of the economy or anything else that causes your card issuer to feel uncomfortable.
The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act requires credit card issuers to give cardholders a 45-day notice before making any significant material changes to the terms and conditions of the agreement. Amazingly, card cancellation isn't considered a significant material change. Regulation B of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act requires credit card companies to provide notification of any adverse action such as card cancellation within 30 days after it takes place. This means you may have to wait for nearly a month before you find out your card has been canceled, allowing plenty of opportunity for embarrassing exchanges at cash registers when your card is declined.
Any outstanding balance you have on a canceled credit card still needs to be paid off. You'll typically be able to carry on paying back what you owe on the same terms as you had when your account was active, but your card provider is able to alter these at its discretion. You will still be charged interest on your account, and information about how you pay down any outstanding balance will continue to be reported to the credit bureaus.
Michael Roennevig has been a journalist since 2003. He has written on politics, the arts, travel and society for publications such as "The Big Issue" and "Which?" Roennevig holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the Surrey Institute and a postgraduate diploma from the National Council for the Training of Journalists at City College, Brighton.