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Sunday Reader Question: How to Keep Credit Card Accounts Active

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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

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