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How to cancel a credit card application

You’ll most likely need to cancel your card account instead.

Applying for a credit card and submitting your application may seem like a good idea in the moment, but you may change your mind. If you experience this kind of instant regret, you might wonder if you can cancel your credit card application.

This may be possible, but it depends on whether your provider has approved the application yet.

Can I cancel my credit card application after I’ve submitted it?

If you haven’t received approval yet, you may be able to cancel your application after it’s been submitted. Call your provider’s customer service line, then ask the representative to cancel your application.

However, you’ll need to be quick. Sometimes, you have only minutes from when you submitted your application to cancel. And with major banks, decisions are often automated — which means you might not even get a chance to call before you’re approved.

If you apply for a credit card, do you have to accept it?

Technically, yes — once you’re approved for a card, you’ve basically already accepted it. Your provider will create your card account shortly after approval, and it will report the new account to the credit bureaus.

Beware: You can’t decline acceptance of the card by not activating it or not signing the back of it. Neither of these stop your card account from being opened.

Pro tip

If you’re approved for a credit card, your issuer has already initiated a hard inquiry on your credit report. This will likely have caused your credit score to drop by a few points. Cancelling your card won’t stop the hit to your credit score.

I don’t want the card I just opened — what do I do?

If you’re sure you don’t want your new card, you can reject it. This means you’ll need to cancel your card account. Simply call the number on the back of your card and ask a representative to close your account.

Will canceling my credit card hurt my credit score?

Canceling your credit card will probably have a negative impact on your credit score. The severity depends on how strong your credit score is.

  • With strong credit, you have less to worry about.
    You’ll take a small hit, but your established credit history means you probably won’t experience a big drop. You’ll likely still have a low credit utilization rate. Plus, new credit affects just 10% of your FICO score — not a huge deal if you’re solid on other credit factors.
  • If your credit score is fair or poor — or close to it — canceling your card might hurt more.
    An application for new credit and a quick cancellation may stick out more on your credit report, and might be a red flag to other lenders. Also, canceling your card might have a larger effect on your credit utilization ratio. This is because your total credit limit is probably less than someone with excellent credit.

Ultimately, you have more leeway to close your card if you have strong credit. But if you have weaker credit, you might not want to do it just yet.

What should I do instead of canceling my card?

Instead of canceling your card, consider these options:

  • Keep it.
    It’s often a good thing to have more credit. This gives you more buying power and helps you keep your credit utilization low. You might especially want to keep the card if it doesn’t have an annual fee.
  • Ask for a different card.
    Consider calling your issuer and asking to swap your card with another one. For example, you might trade your Bank of America cashback card for a travel card. This way, you might be able to get the product you want without closing your account. If you applied for a card that has an annual fee, you might want to get a no-annual-fee card instead.

Can I apply for another card after I’ve canceled my card?

You’re welcome to submit a card application whenever you like. But before you do, think about where your credit score is at this moment. If it changed significantly, your odds of approval may have been affected too.

Once you know where your new credit score stands, look for a card that fits your credit profile. This increases the likelihood you’ll be approved.

Avoid applying for multiple cards quickly

Strongly consider applying for cards one at a time, and aim only for the ones you think you’ll be approved for. That’s because each time you submit an application, the hard inquiry will negatively impact your credit score. Multiple applications in quick succession can take a significant chunk from your score.

Bottom line

In some cases, you can cancel your credit card application — if you’re quick, that is. However, you’ll typically receive a decision on your application immediately.

If you don’t want your card, you can reject it. However, this is technically an account cancellation.

Consider keeping the card to protect your credit. If you really don’t want the card, check your credit score again and apply for another credit card that interests you.

Frequently asked questions

How many points might my credit score drop when I apply for a credit card?
Your credit score usually decreases by five to 10 points. But this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, and you could lose fewer or more points depending on your credit profile.

What is a hard inquiry?
This means a bank or provider has requested your credit report to decide whether to lend to you.

Will my provider close my card if I don’t use it?
Yes. To avoid this, use your card at least once every three months or so.

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