How to cancel your credit card safely

Last updated:

We value our editorial independence, basing our comparison results, content and reviews on objective analysis without bias. But we may receive compensation when you click links on our site. Learn more about how we make money from our partners.

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 do I cancel a credit card properly?

Follow these steps to cancel your credit card successfully:

  1. Pay the outstanding balance.
    Avoid closing a credit card with a 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:

ProviderContact information
American Express800–528–4800
Citi888–248–4226
Bank of America800-732-9194
Capital One800-227-4825
Chase800-432-3117
HSBC888-385-8916
TD Bank888-561-8861
US Bank800-947-1444
Wells Fargo800-642-4720

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.

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. If you just submitted your application for a new credit card, you might be able to cancel your card application before you’re approved.

What to do before cancelling a credit card

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

  • Note the annual fee.
    Check when your annual fee is charged and if it will affect your final payment.
  • Pay off everything you owe.
    If you have a balance on your card, it means you still owe money to your provider. Clear your balance to close your card.
  • See if you can negotiate better terms.
    Consider why you’re closing your card, and think about negotiating with your card issuer to get a better deal. Don’t want to pay an annual fee or want a lower interest rate? Just ask, and your issuer might oblige.
  • Consider your credit.
    Closing your account can decrease your total credit, and your credit utilization ratio may go up. Also, positive payment history you’ve accrued with your card won’t factor as heavily once you close your card. As a result of these factors, your credit score may decrease. Keep this in mind if you’ll be applying for another credit product in the near future.
  • Update your credit card for relevant services.
    You may be using your card as a payment method for services that charge you regularly. To avoid interruptions in service, add a different card.

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.

Updated October 20th, 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
17.49% to 26.49% 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
1.5% cash back on all purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 15.74%, 21.74% or 25.74% variable)
$0
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.
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 14.74% to 25.74% variable)
$95
Earn $250 bonus cash back after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & fees
1x points on all purchases with 2% point value when you redeem for airfare and 1.5% for cash back
16.74% variable
$495
Receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
CardMatch™ from creditcards.com
CardMatch™ from creditcards.com
See terms
See issuer's website
See terms
Can't decide on a card? Get personalized credit card offers with CardMatch™.

Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

You may be canceling your old card because of high fees, unfavorable interest rates or lack of rewards for your spending. Compare a handful of credit cards at once to find the one that can benefit you most.

Frequently asked questions

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.

2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    ElizabethOctober 14, 2019

    I haven’t received the credit card yet, upon waiting I read lots of bad reviewed and no longer want the card, how do I go about cancelling it

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      nikkiangcoOctober 15, 2019Staff

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry to hear you haven’t received your credit card yet. Have you checked with the bank if your address is correct? To know the process of cancelling your credit card, choose from the list of banks stated above and click the name, the link will bring you to another page showing the process of cancelling the card. If your bank is not on the list, please contact your bank directly.

      Hope this helps and feel free to reach out to us again for further assistance.

      Best,
      Nikki

Go to site