At a Glance

Canceling a credit card can be necessary to manage your financial health, but it’s important to understand the implications and follow the proper procedure. Let’s explore why you might want to cancel a credit card, discuss the steps involved in the cancellation process, address the impact on your credit score, and provide alternative options to consider.

In this article, you’ll learn:


2.8 billion

The number of credit cards in use worldwide.

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Should you cancel a credit card?

Before diving into the cancellation process, evaluating whether canceling a credit card is the right decision for you is crucial. Canceling a credit card can have positive and negative effects, so it’s important to consider your circumstances. Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Credit utilization: If canceling the card significantly increases your credit utilization ratio, it may negatively impact your credit score. However, the impact may be minimal if you have other cards with low balances.
  • Annual fees: If the credit card charges an annual fee that outweighs the benefits and rewards you receive, canceling the card may be a good idea.
  • Temptation and spending habits: If you find it challenging to manage multiple credit cards or tend to overspend, canceling a credit card might be a wise choice to avoid accumulating debt.

6 steps to cancel a credit card

If you decide that canceling a credit card is the right move for you, follow these six steps to ensure a smooth cancellation process:

  1. Review your cardholder agreement: Familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions of canceling your credit card. Look for any fees or penalties that may apply.
  2. Pay off your balance: Before canceling the card, paying off any outstanding balances is essential. You can do this by making a one-time payment or setting up a repayment plan.
  3. Redeem or transfer rewards: If your credit card offers rewards or points, redeem or transfer them before canceling. Check for any expiration dates or limitations on how to use your rewards.
  4. Contact the card issuer: Reach out to your customer service department via phone or email. Inform them of your intention to cancel the card and follow their instructions for the cancellation process.
  5. Confirm cancellation in writing: To ensure a record of your cancellation request, send a written letter or email to the card issuer reiterating your desire to cancel the credit card.
  6. Monitor your credit report: After canceling the card, regularly review your credit report to ensure that the canceled card is correctly reflected and that there are no inaccuracies.

Does canceling a credit card hurt your credit?

Canceling a credit card can potentially have an impact on your credit score, but the extent of the impact depends on several factors. Closing a credit card may affect your credit utilization ratio, credit history length, and overall credit mix. However, the effect may be minimal if you have multiple credit cards with low balances and a long credit history. It’s important to consider the potential consequences before making a decision.

Reasons to cancel a credit card

There are several valid reasons why you might want to cancel a credit card:

1. High fees: If the credit card charges excessive annual fees or maintenance fees that outweigh the benefits, canceling the card can help you save money.

2. Poor customer service: If you consistently encounter unsatisfactory customer service experiences with the card issuer, canceling the card might be the best course of action.

3. Unwanted or unused features: If the credit card offers features or benefits you no longer need or use, canceling it can simplify your financial life.

What are alternatives to canceling your credit card?

If you’re hesitant to cancel a credit card but still want to manage your finances effectively, consider these alternatives:

1. Credit card downgrade: Instead of canceling, contact your card issuer and inquire about downgrading to a card with no annual fee or lower fees. This allows you to retain your credit history while eliminating the costs.

2. Temporarily suspend the card: Some card issuers allow you to suspend a credit card temporarily. This option can be helpful if you’re concerned about potential fraud or want to curb your spending temporarily.

3. Strategic credit utilization: Keep the card open but use it sparingly to maintain a low credit utilization ratio. By making occasional small purchases and promptly paying them off, you can preserve the card’s positive impact on your credit score.


It depends on your specific circumstances. If the unused credit card has no annual fees or charges, keeping it open can help maintain a low credit utilization ratio and positively impact your credit score. However, if the card has high fees or you’re concerned about potential misuse, canceling it might be a more prudent choice.

You must pay off the outstanding amount before canceling a credit card with a balance. Canceling a card with an unpaid balance may negatively impact your credit score and lead to additional fees or penalties.

To cancel a credit card application that is still pending, contact the card issuer’s customer service immediately and request the cancellation. Provide them with the necessary information and follow any instructions they provide.

Closing a credit card can impact your credit history, primarily by shortening the average age of your credit accounts. However, the impact may be minimal if you have a well-established credit history with other open accounts. It’s important to evaluate the potential consequences and make an informed decision.