Video Sunday Reader Question: Will Canceling a Credit Card Raise Red Flags With Banks?

by on December 30, 2012 · 13 comments

in Credit Cards, Sunday Reader Questions, Video Blog Post

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TPG reader Howard writes in asking about what happens when you have several cards with a bank and want to cancel one:

“When I call to cancel a credit card, will the agents be able to see info on the other cards I have open with that provider?  

I’m thinking in particular about the Citi (but of course this would be good to know for Chase and Amex as well).  Last year I got the American Airlines Mastercard, and I’m thinking about getting the Visa version now.  If I get the Visa card, when I go to cancel the Mastercard one in a few months (due to annual fee), will the fact that I recently got the Visa raise any red flags?”

Yes, an issuer will be able to see what other cards you have open with them as well as any other accounts when you call, but don’t let that stop you.

Some people feel timid about calling in to cancel a credit card and avoid an annual fee, but banks are used to this because they have a lot of customers who are savvy points collectors. They know that they need to offer compelling products and bonuses to keep us as customers. So if you call to cancel the Mastercard and you want that Visa shortly after, you shouldn’t have an issue.

Some issuers such as Barclays are cracking down and saying that you can’t get the same or comparable products over and over again, but churning is still possible, and many issuers will let you do it.

Chase in particular seems to take a general overview of your products and your entire line of credit when deciding whether to issue you a new product. I’ve personally gotten multiple Ink bonuses – not for the same card, but for getting the Ink Bold and then the Ink Plus, which are slightly different, one being a charge card and one being a credit card.

So anytime a bank creates a new card – whether it’s a new business version of a card, or one that is a Mastercard instead of a Visa, or what have you, you should be able to get that bonus again. It becomes trickier when you’re trying to get the same exact product again – for instance if you got 100,000 British Airways miles the first time the BA Visa offer came around and then you wanted to apply for the exact same card right now because you can earn 50,000 Avios with $1,000 spend in 3 months plus 50,000 more when you spend $20,000 within your first year (that offer ends in February 2013).

When calling your bank, just be honest with them and tell them why you want to close the account – that you’re not seeing value out of having the product and want to try something new. In Howard’s case, the big difference between the World Mastercard and the Visa Signature is the host of secondary benefits like using Visa Signature hotels and things like that. While I haven’t done it myself, a lot of people have reported success using that argument when churning both the standard Sapphire Preferred Visa and the Mastercard version of the card, which no longer seems to be around for the moment.

Feel free to comment below with your own experiences churning and strategies for racking up those bonuses.

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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  • phil

    Good advice, TPG. Except, with CITI, you need to wait a minimum of 18 months before you apply for another AA personal card. Howard should look at this thread in FT:

  • สุภา วงค์เมือง

    How are the changes to get the BA card from chase while already having the ink bold and ink plus?

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  • Guest

    If I had the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa, close it, and then apply a few months later for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Mastercard, will I be able to get the signup bonus for the Mastercard?

    Thanks for all your work on the blog.

  • Chad Warren

    The CSP Mastercard is still around, the only thing is that you can not have both at the same time. Tried to do this because my online electric bill barely charges anything when paying with Mastercard vs. $22 when using a Visa. Plus a lot of places in Europe highly prefer one or the other.

  • TravelBloggerBuzz

    I waited for 5.5 months and got it! Yes, I got both signing bonuses. I applied for the MC on the Mastercard site!

  • Brian(J)

    Ink Bold and Plus are business cards, BA and Sapphire are personal cards. I have all four.

  • สุภา วงค์เมือง

    Good to know, just before the deadline I will be applying for the BA card and the 100k miles bonus.

  • James

    I got the Citi AA Visa & Amex in Nov 2010 when it was 75k miles each. I’ve called to cancel the last two years, but they’ve waived the annual fee on both cards each time. Should I cancel anyway so I can get the bonus again?

  • Benthelefty

    I’ve had a rep tell me that there’s no max to the # of cards that you can have. At the very least downgrade to a bronze card to keep your account open for history sake, and re-apply again after

  • BankofGreed

    I dont think issuers care about the number of cards you have (with amex being an exception). They really care about the total credit lines across all accounts.

    For instance, I recently applied for two BofA cards and a chase card. Rather than extend more credit, they took available credit from existing cards and moved them to the new cards. While I gained three new cards, the total credit lines with each bank stayed the same.

  • dapearl

    Do you recommend canceling a card which loses the credit with that bank or do you prefer to downgrade to a no-fee card to hold onto the credit until you need it for the next application? Do banks treat this differently?

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