Since your credit card has an expiration date, you may worry that it will get cancelled if you are not using it. While this is a concern to keep in mind, most credit card issuers will not cancel your card unless you request that they do so. There are, however, a few scenarios in which your card could be canceled.
What is an “Unused” Card?
Your unused cards may or may not have balances on them. If you have no balance on your credit card and have not used the card in a while, it should still be open when you try to use it. There are a few exceptions, but it is unlikely your creditor will punish you for not using the card.
On the other hand, if you are carrying a balance and not making payments, your creditor may cancel the account. The balance will go to collections, and you will have to work with them to pay the debt. If you are making payments on your balance, though, the card will remain open.
Cards You Have to Use
There are times when the card issuer will have rules about how often you must use your card. Usually, these rules occur with debit or gift cards instead of traditional credit cards. To remain enrolled in your rewards program, you may need to use your card at least once a month, but you can still keep the account itself open, even if you do not make a purchase. It depends on the terms and conditions of your credit card.
If you are worried that your card will be cancelled, you should contact your creditor and ask them under what conditions your account would be closed. However, most will only cancel your card upon your request.
What Does the Expiration Date Mean?
Your credit card’s expiration date has nothing to do with your account. The expiration date is just the day the physical card will quit working. There are a few reasons your credit card expires:
- Card companies can send you a new card with an updated image.
- The magnetic strip usually does not work well after a certain amount of time.
- The card issuers can update their card’s features, including switching over to EMV card or a chip and PIN credit card.
Before your card expires, you will get notification from your card company. Generally, your issuer will just mail a new card to save you the trouble of requesting a replacement. Once you receive the new credit card, you simply need to activate it; then you can use it just as you used your old card.
Should You Cancel an Unused Card?
If you are not tempted to spend money you don’t have on your unused credit cards, it is best to leave them open. The accounts will improve your credit score in a number of ways. First, they will keep your debt-to-available-credit ratio low. Secondly, they will increase the length of your credit history. The only reasons to get rid of a card are if they tempt you to make purchases you cannot afford or if they have annual fees.
Under most circumstances, your credit cards will not be canceled if they are unused. You are in control of your account until you stop paying on your balance.