Sunday Reader Question: How to Keep Credit Card Accounts Active

by on September 2, 2012 · 3 comments

in Credit Cards, Credit FAQ, Sunday Reader Questions

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TPG reader Richard asks:

“After combing through the interwebs, I haven’t found a definitive answer on whether banks will close credit accounts that aren’t being used. Is this just due to activity? I charge 1 dollar on each card I have every month via Amazon gift card to myself but I don’t know if this is enough to keep it open. I like to add credit cards that have no annual fee which help my overall credit limit and average age of accounts to my collection to help my credit score and help me during churns.”

Credit card companies spend a lot of money acquiring cardholders, so you generally won’t find them looking to close the accounts of customers in good standing- even if you aren’t using the card. During the “great recession” I did have a credit card company decrease the limit on one of my cards that I wasn’t using, but I think that had more to do with credit card companies aggressively trying to lower their exposure during the credit crisis than them “punishing” me for not using the card.

You have a good point that the average age of your accounts is a factor in your credit score, but only about 15% so I wouldn’t obsess about keeping cards open- especially if they have an annual fee. Check out this post for my thoughts on when to close a credit card.

For your reference: Credit Score Factors from FICO: 35% payment history, 30% amounts owed, 15% length of credit history, 10% new credit, 10% types of credit

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Jorge

    AmEx will close your credit card if there is no activity for one full year. You can actually ask for a membership fee refund if you didnt spend a cent during this period.

  • Samuel Adams

    I generally just make one purchase every 6 mos on a couple of free cards that I don’t want closed down and it has never been an issue.

  • Eric

    I’m a firm believer in keeping accounts “active” as well. I have a list of services on autopay. Each draws from a different card so I don’t have to think about it. Right now I have Expertflyer, Google Drive, a VPN service, Netflix, Skype, WSJ digital subscription, USAA Credit Monitor, Spotify, Starbucks Reload, my cable bill, and my cell phone bill. I can’t think of anything else so Amazon gift cards sound like a good idea for my few remaining cards. Anyone have other suggestions for worthwhile services with autopay?

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