When should you close a credit card?

Michelle —  October 15, 2012 — 4 Comments

Credit cards can be a good thing, or they can be very bad for a person. If you’re looking to build your credit score, then you probably look forward to doing well with your credit card.  However, if you find that you have many spending temptations, then credit cards are probably not the best thing in your life.

I personally have 3 credit cards. I pay them off every month (I’ve never carried a balance) and I use them mainly for credit card rewards. I earn a decent amount and right now I have around $200 in credit card reward points saved up for Christmas presents that I plan on buying.

Most of my friends have no credit cards. When I tell them that I have 3, they usually think I’m crazy and that I must be in major debt. There is a correct way to use a credit card! Anyways, how do you know whether you should have any credit cards though? Maybe you should even close one?

A lot of people have credit cards for many different reasons. The cash flow from month to month is nice to have, the credit card rewards can add up nicely, and you can build your credit. However, many people are scared to close their credit card because they are afraid that they will destroy their credit score.

Your credit score is important in certain situations, but if you don’t know how to properly manage your credit card or credit cards, then closing them might be a better idea for the moment for you.

Reasons why you might want to close your credit card:

1. You can’t control yourself.

Do you see your credit card as free money? The other day my friend told me how she only had a $400 limit on her credit card, BUT that she could still go out to eat because she still had around $50 left to use on it. This makes no sense of me! She also said that she’s only been paying the minimum payment since she’s gotten it because she thought that was helping her credit score.

If you see yourself going to mall just because you have credit left on your card to use, then credit cards may not be good for you. Credit on your credit card is not something that you should just be spending and racking up just because it is there and available for you.

2. You don’t want to rely on credit.

One of my friends pays for everything with cash and refuses to have credit cards. While I wish I could say that this is the way that I live, some people actually DO (of course) pay for everything with cash so that they aren’t forced to rely on money that they don’t actually have.

Be Careful.

There are things to keep in mind if you do decide to close your credit cards. The effect of closing a credit card on your credit score can vary greatly. It all depends on your credit score now, how long you’ve had the specific card and your credit limits.

Maybe just hiding your card from yourself is a better idea, so that you can keep that long standing card that you’ve had. Freezing your credit card (such as putting it in ice in your freezer) may not be a good idea because the credit card company may close your account because of inactivity.

Also, if you close an account that had a high limit, this can affect your utilization ratio. If your ratio becomes too high, then this will negatively affect your credit.

Have you ever closed a credit card? Why?

Michelle

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Michelle is the founder of Making Sense of Cents, a personal finance and lifestyle blog about budgeting, traveling, life, and student loans. Read further on her story and life, and you can also connect with her on twitter.

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