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Proper card maintenance is key to living in the miles and points world. I’m sure I am not alone in having what many people would consider a ludicrous amount of credit cards. As I said when being interviewed on the CBS Sunday Morning show, between my wife and I we have around 40 cards.
Which isn’t to say that YOU should have that many – I’m a firm believer that each individual person should go only as fast as you understand and feel comfortable and above all, you should not sign up for a credit card because some guy on the Internet said that you should!
I’ve been doing this for a long time and understand the risks. It’s up to each individual to learn, understand and weigh the risks vs rewards themselves. I’m sure for many people, even HAVING 13 cards would be crazy, much less having enough cards that you have to CLOSE 13 cards!
Credit card maintenance
I wrote a few weeks ago about the 44 credit cards that my wife and I had between us. Part One of the story was reviewing our 44 cards and making a decision on which ones to keep. Today’s post is Part Two, which details the cards I decided to close
I identified 13 cards to close, many of which I closed due to the fact that I don’t like paying the annual fees on cards. I thought it would be worth a brief look at those 13 cards to detail the decisions I had in deciding whether or not to close the cards
- First Bank Best Western card – my wife and I both applied for one of these a few months ago as part of the best deal nobody was talking about. I then realized that my wife already HAD one of these cards, so rather than have two, I closed one of them (it had an annual fee)
- Barclay Aviator card (2) – my wife and I both had this card and we closed them both. Having an open card does I believe reduce your ability to get another card. We’ll probably apply for this card again later on
- Citibank American Airlines Platinum – I had 2 of these cards and closed one of them in lieu of paying the annual fee. I did keep one of them to take advantage of the benefits while flying AA, including free checked bag, 10% mile rebate and access to the Reduced Mileage awards.
- American Express Delta Gold card – I closed this card because I was no longer flying Delta very much and didn’t see the value in the annual fee. I actually considered holding on to this card and paying the annual fee for the refer a friend offers, which can net up to 50,000 Skymiles per calendar year.
- Chase Marriott Business – Another card that was not providing the value commensurate with the annual fee charged
- Citi no-fee Hilton card (6) – Over the years, my wife and I had each accrued 3 of these Hilton cards. We had not ever canceled them (so as not to reset the 24 month timer) but with the impending switch to American Express cards, we wanted to cancel them before they were converted
- Bank of America Alaska – My wife had one of these Alaska cards still open which we decided to close. Following the new Bank of America 2/3/4 rule, we’ll probably end up each applying for new cards in the next little bit
When (and why) NOT to close a card
Having said all that, there are a few reasons why it makes sense NOT to close a card, even if it’s one that you really have no use for anymore
- Your average age of accounts (AAoA) is one of the factors that makes up your credit score. So closing a card / account that you’ve had for a long time can have (sometimes drastic) effects on your credit score.
- Another factor to your credit score is your percent utilization, which is the amount of your total available credit that you use or have used. By closing down some of your accounts, you are reducing your total amount of credit, which can decrease utilization (and potentially hurt your credit score)
(SEE ALSO: 5 myths about credit and your credit score)
Part Three of this series will detail the cards that I am planning on applying for in the near future
What about you? What cards have you recently closed?
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When do you plan to re-apply for a new Barclays Aviator card now that you cancelled one? Its been more than 8 months since i cancelled mine.
But i got rejected last month for a new one.
Hadn’t planned a specific timeframe yet
You don’t think the free night on the Marriott Business card is worth $99?
I think it’s in a gray area and certainly worth it for some. For me, I end up always having trouble using it (remember it’s category limited)
I find the IHG free night is easy yo use. Not so much for Hyatt and Marriott which is often kind of a forced use.
Did you get the BW bonus before discovering duplicate and closing? Do you feel it hurts to cancel after a few months, rather than waiting a while?
Before closing any of these cards. Get your annual year end summary. You may need that for tax purposes. In the past I closed some in Nov. Dec. time frame and then needed some backup for taxes.
If you can wait until the year end summary, do so if you need those printouts for taxes.
When I close a card, if possible, I ask to move the credit limit over to another card. Chase, BofA and Barclay have all done it for me. Or, I product change to a no-fee version of the the card.
Then when I apply for a new card, if the bank decides they won’t give me more credit, I ask them to take some credit from an existing card.
Plus, it helps my debt-to-credit ratio to keep the same credit limit.
I think this is going to be the year of closing a lot of cards. The “sock drawer” is getting a little too full of even no-fee cards that I just don’t use. I’m getting tired of monitoring 40+ cards between Hubby and me.
If you choose to close a credit card and have another credit with the same c/c issuing company, have you tried asking them if they would add the credit limit to the card you decided to keep?
Yes I have tried that and most banks have been fine with it. Generally I don’t bother with that because I don’t see any real benefit to having huge CLs unless you’re actively using that all the time. I’d rather have less available credit with a bank which might lead to better chances of auto approval