You might decide to close a credit card account for quite a few different reasons. Perhaps you wish to scale back your available money to ensure you stay within your budget, or perhaps you have found a different card that offers better rewards or a better rate. Maybe you have even decided to stop using them altogether. Regardless of your reasoning, closing a credit card account is not as simple as merely shredding the card. Even if you no longer use a line of financing, the fact that it exists could impact your financial scores – in some cases, negatively. Following these steps can help you ensure that you have actually closed the account in question for good.
# 1: Pay Off Remaining Balances
If you plan to close one or more accounts, be careful to pay off any remaining balances they carry in full. Forgetting to do so could seriously harm your credit score, and could cost you a fortune in penalties and late fees. If you plan to close multiple cards, pay down the ones with the highest interest rates first.
# 2: Contact the Card Company
Your next step should be to actually contact the company that issued you the card to direct them to close the account. In some cases, you may be able to handle this process through the company’s official website, but in most you will have to call them to speak with a representative. This process could take some time depending on how long you have to wait on hold and how many times you are transferred, so save it for a day when you have some free time and can leave your phone on speaker mode while you take care of something else to fill the time.
You can expect the customer service representative to try to convince you to stay, probably by offering you a lower interest rate, a higher credit limit and the like. Simply be patient, polite and firm, insisting that you want to close your account until the representative finishes the process.
# 3: Send Formal Confirmation Letter
At the end of your phone conversation with the credit card company’s customer service rep, you should have been given some type of confirmation number for your account closure. Next, write a formal letter confirming the closure of your credit card account, including this number in it. Send one signed copy of the letter to the company, and keep one on hand for your records. Hopefully it will not be necessary, but if the credit card company mistakenly keeps your account open after telling you it was closed, this letter will help absolve you of liability for any fees or penalties they could try to charge you later.
# 4: Final Precautions
With the account officially closed, you should now shred the physical card or cards in your possession. Check your credit report multiple times per year to ensure that it does not show the account as still being open. If it does, contact one of the three major credit monitoring agencies to correct the mistake and prevent it from negatively impacting your credit score.