Can you close a credit card with a balance?

Yes, some creditors will let you but you’re still on the hook for repayment.

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two hand cutting up a credit card

Is it possible to close a credit card with a balance?

Yes. Some creditors require you to pay off your balance before closing your account but generally you can close your credit card at any time, even if you still have a balance. Closing your card doesn’t make your balance disappear. You’re still liable for the outstanding balance and you’ll receive a notification from your bank requesting payment.

Your leftover balance will still accrue interest based on your card terms. You’ll want to pay this off as soon as possible – ideally before you close the card in the first place.

See if your bank allows closures despite a balance

Here are the phone numbers of the Big 5 Banks you can call to close your account and verify you can do so with a remaining balance.

IssuerContact number to close your card
TD Bank1 (800) 983-8472
CIBC1 (800) 465-4653
RBC1 (800) 769-2512
Scotiabank1 (800) 387-6466
BMO1 (800) 263-2263

How to close a credit card with a balance

Closing a card with a balance isn’t terribly different from closing a card without a balance. This process may slightly vary from provider to provider, but here’s how to close your card:

  1. Call the number on the back of your credit card.
  2. Speak with a representative and let them know you want to close your card account.
  3. Confirm your personal information, including your name, phone number and address.
  4. The representative should guide you through the rest of the process. It’s here that you’ll likely discuss the matter of payment.
  5. Make sure you cancel any pre-authorized payments linked to the card
  6. Check your final credit card statement to verify there are no additional charges
  7. Check your credit report after 30 days to verify that your account has been closed

Will closing a credit card impact my credit score?

Yes, you can expect your credit score to take a small hit after closing your account. This is because closing a card account negatively impacts your credit utilization ratio and your credit history — two factors used to calculate your credit score. There longer you hold an open account in good standing, the better it is for your credit score. That’s why it’s often more beneficial to simply leave a card account open, even if you’re not using it.

If you don’t want to risk using or losing the card, or if the card has an annual fee, you might consider closing it.

Compare balance transfer cards

If you want to close your credit card account but you still have a balance, consider applying for a balance transfer card. A balance transfer card can let you move your old debt onto a new account with an interest-free period. This will let you repay your debt over time without worrying about interest.

Name Product Purchase Interest Rate Balance Transfer Rate Balance Transfer Fee Annual Fee Minimum Income Reward Description
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
12.99%
3.99% for the first 9 months (then 12.99%)
1%
$20
$15,000
Take advantage of an introductory balance transfer offer, annual fee waiver in the first year, and low purchase and cash advance interest rates.
Get a rate of 3.99% on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee. Plus, get the $20 annual fee waived in the first year.
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
1.95% intro APR for the first , 19.95% thereafter
1.95% for the first 6 months (then 19.95%)
3%
$0
$12,000
Earn 2% cash back in two categories of your choice (or three categories if you open a Tangerine Savings Account and directly deposit your cash back into the account), and 0.5% cash back on everything else.
Get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening).
No-Fee Scotiabank Value Visa Card
16.99%
3.99% for the first 6 months (then 16.99%)
N/A
$0
$12,000
Save with a low interest rate, no annual fee and a balance transfer offer.
Get a 3.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers with a 0% balance transfer fee for the first 6 months. Apply by October 31, 2020.
BMO Rewards Mastercard
19.99%
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
1%
$0
$15,000
Get 1 BMO Reward point for every $1 spent on eligible purchases, and get 2 BMO Rewards points for every $1 spent at participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car locations.
Get a bonus of 15,000 BMO Rewards points. Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard
19.99%
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
1%
$0
$15,000
Get 2 AIR MILES for every $20 spent at eligible AIR MILES partners, and get 1 AIR MILE for every $20 spent elsewhere. Get 5x the Miles at Shell until December 31, 2020.
Get 950 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $100 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash). Plus, get 5x the Miles at Shell until December 31, 2020. Get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
BMO CashBack Mastercard
19.99%
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
1%
$0
$15,000
Earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases.
Get 5% cash back on all eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership (up to a maximum spend of $2,000, and earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases thereafter). Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers with a 1% balance transfer fee for nine months.
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard For Students
19.99%
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
1%
$0
$15,000
Earn 2 AIR MILES for every $20 spent at eligible AIR MILES partners, and earn 1 AIR MILE for every $20 spent elsewhere. Get 5x the Miles at Shell until December 31, 2020.
Get 950 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $100 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash). Plus, get 5x the Miles at Shell until December 31, 2020. Get a 1.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to balance amounts transferred.
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Is it better to close a credit card with zero balance?

You can expect a similar impact on your credit score when you close your credit card with or without a balance.
Consider closing the card early if you’re worried that you might keep using the credit card when you’re trying to pay off the balance. On the other hand, closing the card after you’re down to zero balance ensures you never have to think about that card account again.

Bottom line

You’re free to close your credit card, even when it has an outstanding balance. Just make sure you have a plan to repay that balance. Consider looking at balance transfer credit cards to pay off that balance interest-free while you close your old card account.

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