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How to cancel your credit card safely

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Whether you’re upgrading to a new credit card, getting a balance transfer or simply reducing the number of cards in your wallet, there comes a time when you need to cancel a credit card. But it’s not quite as simple as cutting your card in half. We go through how to properly cancel a credit card, how to contact the providers, what to consider and how it could affect your credit.

How to cancel a credit card

How to properly cancel your credit card

woman holding credit card while looking at laptopFollow these steps to cancel your credit card successfully:

  1. Pay the outstanding balance.
    If you try to close an account with an outstanding balance, the bank could increase the interest rate or demand full and immediate payment. If you plan on transferring your balance to a new card, wait until the transfer has gone through before your close the card.
  2. Transfer any reward points.
    If your card offers rewards, redeem or transfer them to another eligible account before you request to cancel the card. Once you close the account, all unclaimed points are forfeited.
  3. Cancel direct debits.
    To prevent reactivating your card, cancel all existing direct debits linked to your credit card. Even if you’ve requested for an account to be closed, a direct debit can reactivate a canceled card.
  4. Cancel your credit card online.
    Every credit card provider offers their own way of canceling credit cards online (some more difficult than others).
  5. Cancel your card.
    Once you’re ready to cancel your card, the provider will either required you to call directly or cancel online. Most providers want to talk to you to offer lower APR or annual fees to get you to stay with them. So if you’re dead set on canceling the cards, be ready to stand your ground. Once you cancel, make a record of the date, time, and name of the representative you speak with.
  6. Cancel your card in writing.
    Other providers make it even harder to cancel by requiring that you send a written request. Ask for the address over the phone, and include your credit card number and account number in the letter. You should receive a letter confirming the closure of the account.
  7. Check for future statements.
    Try to log into your account or go through your credit card statements following your request to make sure that the card is definitely canceled.
  8. Destroy your credit card.
    Cut the card into tiny pieces to make it impossible for anyone to piece it back together. You can even discard the pieces at different times or places.
  9. Confirmation.
    You should receive a cancellation confirmation by mail. If you don’t, follow up with your lender using details from your first phone call.

Call to cancel

The phone number on the back of your credit card is usually a good bet, but here are details for contacting the major card companies to cancel your card:

Provider Contact information
American Express 800–528–4800
Citi 888–248–4226
Bank of America 800-732-9194
Capital One 800-227-4825
Chase 800-432-3117
HSBC 888-385-8916
TD Bank 888-561-8861
US Bank 800-947-1444
Wells Fargo 800-642-4720

Cancel online

Here are how a few major credit card companies let you cancel online.

  • Chase.
    Use its secured message center to cancel your credit card online.
  • American Express.
    Use its Live Chat functionality on site. It typically appears as a question mark in the corner of your screen.
  • Barclays.
    Use its Contact Us form.
  • Citi.
    Use its Messages form.

What else should I consider?

Here are a couple other things to consider before you close your account:

  • Annual fees.
    Check when your annual fee is charged and if it will affect your final payment.
  • Applying for a new credit card.
    If you plan to apply for a new card, know that applying too many times can have a negative impact on your credit history.
  • Bad credit.
    Poor creditworthiness is bound to affect your ability to get a credit card in the future. So if you have a lot of debt, you may want to hold off. Instead, focus on paying down your other debts. If you keep the balance at $0, it can help your credit.

Expert advice on canceling cards and your credit report

We spoke to Katherine Craig, Public Relations Manager of Equifax, to get insights on how canceling a credit card could affect your credit report. She says your priority should be settling outstanding payments on your account before you go to close it so that you can avoid default listings. “If you have a default on your credit file, it is a smart thing to pay the debt. Your credit report will then record the default as having been paid (and the date on which it was paid). It may impact your ability to get credit or get it at the most valuable price, but it is certainly better than leaving it unpaid.”

So what about canceling one card and applying for another? If that’s your goal, Katherine recommends limiting your applications to reduce the impact on your credit rating. “Credit reports don’t show the type of credit, or whether it was granted or taken up, what your current credit limit is or if it is now closed. However, too many applications for credit can impact a lender’s view — it may actually appear to the banks that you have a lot more active credit commitments than you do.” If you’ve submitted too many credit card applications in the recent past, Katherine suggests that you wait from three to six months before applying again.

How else will canceling my credit cards affect my credit?

Canceling your credit card can be good if you’re looking to control your spending and get a better grip on your budget. But before you make that move, consider how it can affect your credit.

Credit history

Just because you cancel a credit card, your payment information doesn’t disappear from your credit report. That can be both good news and bad. If you’ve made late payments or have any other negative information on your credit card, that data stays on your credit report for seven years. If you’re closing an account with positive account history, positive credit data stays on your credit report for 10 years from when the account is closed. This allows good credit information to stay longer than negative, giving you the change to improve your financial situation.

Credit utilization ratio

Another way that closing your credit card can affect your credit score is changing your balance-to-limit ratio or credit utilization ratio. Credit bureaus are interested in your total credit available and how much of that you’re using. A low ratio is a strong indicator of a good credit risk.

So closing a credit card with a high spending limit and a zero balance could hurt your credit score, especially if you have high balances in other cards or loans. If you want to cancel your card because of an annual fee, offset the ratio by either requesting a credit limit increase on another card or paying off balances on other cards.

Age of your credit card

When it comes to your credit cards, age matters. The amount of time your credit card has been open affects your credit score, and is beneficial if you have a positive credit history. So closing that credit card you’ve had since college can actually hurt your score if you have a positive payment history.

What should I do if I’m not happy with my credit card?

If you’ve got a credit card that’s not working for you anymore, you may want to find one that’s more suited to your needs. There are so many credit cards on the market with no annual fee, low APRs, rewards and frequent flyer miles and 0% balance transfer offers. Compare credit card offers to find a better option for you.

Find a replacement credit card

You may be canceling your old card because of high fees, unfavorable interest rates or lack of rewards for your spending. Why not compare a handful of credit cards at once to find the one that can benefit you most?
Should I get a credit card from my bank or a different one?

Updated June 25th, 2019
Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual Fee
7x points on Hilton Honors purchases, 5x at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, 3x on all other purchases
17.99% to 26.99% variable
$0
Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
5x points on directly-booked flights or on flights and hotels on Amex Travel. 1x points on all other purchases
N/A
$550
Get 5x Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5x points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com. Rates & fees
N/A
0% intro for the first 18 months (then 13.24%, 17.24% or 21.24% variable)
$0
An 18 months 0% intro APR period on both purchases and balance transfers, plus zero foreign transaction fees, makes this is a strong well-rounded card. See Rates and Fees
3% cash back on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5% on all purchases
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable)
$0
Earn 3% cash back on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5% on all purchases. See Rates and Fees.
2x miles at US restaurants and on direct Delta purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
17.99% to 26.99% variable
$0
Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
2% at US gas stations and select US department stores, 3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
$0
Earn a $150 bonus statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & fees
3x points on directly-booked flights; 4x at restaurants; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points)
See Rates & Fees
$250
35,000 bonus Membership Rewards® Points when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months. Rates & fees
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
$95
Earn $250 bonus cash back after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & fees
1.5% cash back on all purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
$0
Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new card within the first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
5% on up to $2,000 each activated quarter on two categories combined (1% after), 2% on one everyday category and 1% on all other purchases
16.24% to 25.74% variable
$0
When you spend $500 on your card within the first 90 days, you’ll receive a $150 cash back bonus. Rates & Fees
2x points on gas, groceries or airlines, whichever you spend the most on each month, 2x points on cell phone services and charities and 1x points on all other purchases
16.24% to 26.24% variable
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($49 thereafter)
Earn 25,000 enrollment FlexPoints worth $375 in travel after spending $2,000 in the first 4 months. Rates & Fees
2x miles on Delta purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
17.99% to 26.99% variable
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
60,000 bonus miles after you use your new card to make $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase in the first 3 months. Rates & fees
12x points on Hilton Portfolio spending, 6x at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, 3x on all other purchases
17.99% to 26.99% variable
$95
Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 or more in purchases with your new card within the first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
5% back at US office supply stores and on US wireless telephone services on up to $50,000 annually (then 1%). 3% on a chosen category on up to $50,000 annually, then 1% after and on everything else
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.49% to 21.49% variable)
$0
Save on interest with a 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months. After that your APR will be variable. Rates & fees
2x points on everyday business purchases on up to $50,000 annually, then 1x points
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 15.49% to 21.49% variable)
$0
Earn 2x Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases on up to $50,000 with no category restrictions. Rates & fees
4x points on two categories on up to $150,000 combined annually, then 1x points after that and on all other purchases
16.49% to 24.49% variable
$295
Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
1.5% discount when you pay early
N/A
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($250 thereafter)
Get a 1.5% discount when you pay early, with no cap on what you can earn back. Rates & fees
2x points on purchases through Amex Travel and x points on all other purchases
N/A
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 5,000 Membership Rewards® points after your first purchase on the card within the first year of card membership. Rates & fees
6x points at Marriott Bonvoy, 4x points at US restaurants, US gas stations and on US wireless telephone and shipping services, 2x points on all other purchases
17.99% to 26.99% variable
$125
Earn 75,000 bonus points after you use your new card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
5x points on flights and prepaid hotels through Amex Travel, 1.5x points if you spend $5,000 on a single eligible purchase on up to 1 million additional points per year and 1x points on all other purchases
N/A
$595
Earn 50,000 points after spending $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after spending an additional $10,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Rates & fees
2x miles on Delta purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 6 months (then 17.99% to 26.99% variable)
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you make $4,000 in purchases on your new card within your first 3 months. Plus earn $50 after you make your first Delta purchase in the same timeframe. Rates & fees
2x miles on direct Delta purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 6 months (then 17.99% to 26.99% variable)
$195
"Earn 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) plus 80,000 bonus miles after spending $6,000 in the first 3 months. In addition, earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Rates & fees
2x miles on direct Delta purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 6 months (then 17.99% to 26.99% variable)
$450
Earn 80,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $6,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months. Rates & fees
12x points at Hilton, 6x points on select business and travel and 3x points on all other purchases
17.99% to 26.99% variable
$95
Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the card within the first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
1% cash back to your choice of nonprofits, K-12 schools, colleges and religious organizations
1.99% intro for the first 6 monthly billing cycles (then 16.24% to 22.24% variable)
$0
1% cash back to the nonprofits, K-12 schools, colleges and religious organizations of your choice.
1x points on all purchases with 2% point value when you redeem for airfare and 1.5% for cash back
17.24% variable
$495
Receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
1x points on all purchases with 2% point value when you redeem for airfare and 1% for cash back
17.24% variable
$195
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
1x points on all purchases with 2% point value when you redeem for airfare or cash back
17.24% variable
$995
Earn 2% point value when redeemed for airfare or cash back through the Luxury rewards program.
3x points on travel or 4x points if you’re a PenFed Honors Advantage member and 1.5x points on all other purchases
12.99% to 17.99% variable
$0
25,000 bonus points when you spend $2,500 in the first 90 days from account opening.
2% cash back for all PenFed Honors Advantage members and 1.5% cash back on all purchases
11.99% to 17.99% variable
$0
2% cash back for all PenFed Honors Advantage members and 1.5% cash back on all purchases made with your card.
5x points on gas at the pump, 3x points on groceries and 1x points on all other purchases
11.99% to 17.99% variable
$0
Earn 5x points on gas at the pump and 3x points on groceries. Earn 1x points on all other purchases.
1% cash back right away, 1.25% after six on-time payments and 1.5% after 12 on-time payments
15.24% to 26.24% variable
$0
Build your credit with no fees: Apply if you're new to credit or have a fair to good score.
3% back on travel and entertainment and 2% on dining up to $500 combined each billing cycle, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
18.24% to 25.24% variable
$0
Earn 3% cash back on travel and entertainment and 2% at restaurants on the first $1,000 spent on purchases each billing cycle (then 1%). Earn 1% on all other purchases.
N/A
See terms
See terms
Build or rebuild your credit with this Visa credit card.
N/A
9.24% to 17.99% variable
$0
Low APR on all purchases including cash advances.
N/A
11.99% to 17.99% variable
$0
Earn a $100 bonus after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 90 days from account opening.
1% cash back on all purchases or in categories based on Credit One Bank’s discretion
20.24% to 26.24% variable
$0 to $99
Earn 1% cash back on all purchases or in categories based on Credit One Bank’s discretion.
1% cash back on all purchases or in categories based on Credit One Bank’s discretion
20.24% to 26.24% variable
$0 to $99
Get 1% cash back on all purchases or in categories based on Credit One Bank’s discretion.
Up to 1% cash back on eligible purchases determined by Credit One and double cash back at NASCAR.com
20.24% to 26.24% variable
$0 to $99
Get up to 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases determined by Credit One and double cash back rewards at the NASCAR.com Superstore.
N/A
24.9% fixed
$0 to $99
The Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card is specifically designed for those with less than perfect credit.
N/A
9.99% fixed
$48
This secured card can help you rebuild your credit with an initial deposit of $200 to $1,000.
N/A
19.64% variable
$35
A secured Visa® credit card that helps you build your credit quickly.
1% cash back on all purchases
20.99% variable
$0
Designed for college students to build credit history and earn rewards.
N/A
25.24% variable
$0
Designed to help build credit history with no deposit required. Apply if you're new to credit or have a fair to good score over 650.
N/A
14.74% variable
$39
No minimum credit score and no credit history required.
N/A
10.74% variable
$49
Build or rebuild your credit with this secured card.

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