‘Your Credit Card Account Has Been Closed’ — Reader Mistake Story

Dec 7, 2017

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We often publish stories from readers that illustrate how points and miles can help you get where you want to go. However, it’s important to learn from our mistakes as well as our successes, so I’m calling on you to send us your most epic travel failure stories. Email them to info@thepointsguy.com and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls. If we publish your story, we’ll send you a gift to help jump-start your next adventure!

Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Joel, who lost one of his oldest accounts after leaving his card unused for an extended period. Here’s what he had to say:

I’ve had two Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Cards for years — one Mastercard and one Visa, each with a credit line of $20,000. They’ve never been my primary cards, but I like having them since they have no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. I’ve never missed a payment or had any issues with them whatsoever.

Out of the blue I received an email from Capital One saying that my Visa card, which I apparently hadn’t used in three years, was being closed with no recourse. The closing of the card is one thing, but losing $20,000 of credit line is pretty significant, and will almost certainly ding my credit score. After many calls to Capital One, I was told there was no way to save the account.
 
I didn’t realize until then that a credit card company would close an account without warning for no reason other than inactivity. If I had known, I would have transferred the bulk of the credit line to the card I was using. More importantly, I would have used that card periodically to keep it active. I’m now reviewing all my cards and making sure to put at least a small charge on them ASAP.
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Make a small purchase from time to time to keep your accounts active. Photo by Kathrin Ziegler via Getty Images.

 

You may have several reasons to keep an account open even if you don’t use it often. One is if your card has strong benefits but doesn’t offer the best return on spending (like the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card). Another is to protect your credit score, since canceling a card could impact important factors like your average age of accounts and credit utilization ratio. As Joel learned the hard way, card issuers may close accounts after periods of sustained inactivity. To keep your cards open, just make a small purchase from time to time (and remember to pay off the balance).

On the other hand, if your account no longer serves any purpose, don’t just wait for your card issuer to close it for you. You may be able to change to a more useful product, and you could get a retention bonus offer when you call to close the account yourself. If you get a closure notice for a card you still want, you can often get the account reinstated by calling customer service. Then you can explore your options and decide what to do with it in the long term.

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. To thank Joel for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels.

I’d like to do the same for you! If you’ve ever arrived at the airport without ID, booked a hotel room in the wrong city, missed out on a credit card sign-up bonus or made another memorable travel or rewards mistake, I want to hear about it. Please indulge me and the whole TPG team by sending us your own stories (see instructions above). I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Featured image courtesy of Tom Merton via Getty Images.

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