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This is a follow-up to another question I asked many months ago: Why was my credit card just cancelled?

I'm now prepared to pay off a couple more credit cards, but I don't want the accounts to be closed in a similar manner. Is there anything I can do to minimize this risk?

Some options I've considered:

  • Maintain a small balance indefinitely

    Obviously this isn't ideal, since my goal is to get out of debt. But if a token balance ($20?) would keep the card open, I can make a small purchase on the card every month, then pay all but that amount, to keep it open.

  • Pay off the cards in increments. Perhaps over the course of 6 months, rather than in one big lump sum.

Will either of these, or some other strategy, help my chances?

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    Considering the letter BoA sent you, it seems not making late payments would help the most. – VBCPP Dec 14 '14 at 2:50
  • @VBCPP: Fair enough, but as mentioned in that question, in recent history I have not made any late payments. If you wanted to elaborate on that, and suggest how long I need to go without a late payment, and to whom (all debtors? Or just the specific card?) that would make for an excellent answer. I would probably accept it. – Flimzy Dec 14 '14 at 13:33
  • I don't know any of those facts, sorry. A quick search said that 68% of people always or usually pay their cards in full every month so I doubt that it is a reason to close the account. I will concede that it might be a trigger for a review though, which turns the question into simply "How can I reduce the risk of account closure". Any technique that involves paying interest sounds like a loser to me. Just pay it off, if they close it then get another card & set up automatic payments on it – VBCPP Dec 14 '14 at 18:39
  • I had exactly the opposite problem when i was trying to close out my credit cards many years ago. In my experience, closing a credit card account requires the blessing of three popes and a king. – pojo-guy Aug 15 '18 at 3:18
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If the bank wants to close your account, they will do just that. Having a small ongoing balance isn't going to prompt them to keep it open.

Typically, the risk is for a card with zero usage to be closed, as it's a cost to them to keep the account open, and it has no revenue. To avoid this, it's a good idea to use that card or cards for a regular purchase, say, gasoline. A non-impulse buy, and just pay in full to avoid interest. There's no need to keep a balance accruing interest.

Keep in mind - A bill contains a month of charges. The bill for December is issued on the 31st, but due January 25th or so. When you pay it in full you do not have zero balance, you have the charges from January. This accomplishes your goal, will no interest.

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If you've got the money to pay off your credit cards, do it. Today, if possible. There is no need to pay another penny of interest to them.

They may or may not cancel your cards. That is up to them. We can't know what will trigger an individual bank to cancel your card. The answers you got on your other question offer some speculation on why some banks might cancel, but this is not something banks reveal. Anything you do on your own to try to keep the cards open is just a guess, and may or may not succeed.

But ask yourself: why do you want to keep these cards?

Is it for the convenience of the card? I agree that credit cards (paid in full monthly) are convenient, but when they start costing you money, they aren't worth it anymore, in my opinion. Debit cards have most of the same conveniences of credit cards, and are free.

If it is for emergencies, I recommend instead building up an emergency cash fund. That way, if an emergency arises, you won't be forced to borrow money at high credit card interest rates.

If the reason you want to hang on to the credit card is so you can spend more than you have, then you will find yourself in the same situation again.

If I were you, I would pay off the cards ASAP. If the banks cancel your cards, just switch to a debit card and be thankful that you are no longer continuously leaking money to the banks.

  • The reason to keep my cards shouldn't really matter to the answer to this question. But the reason is for cases of emergency. – Flimzy Dec 14 '14 at 1:00
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    @Flimzy My answer is that we can't know, and it is coupled with the unsolicited advice that it is not worth the interest you will pay to try to guess. I've edited my answer to try to make that more clear. – Ben Miller Dec 14 '14 at 1:55
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Much money is made by creditors on the transaction value of a client in addition to interest value. Knowing that, I pay off all my cards every month, have never made a late payment, and get a number of offers every year for reward type cards. Don't ever be worried about paying off your card in full, just be sure you're using your card and that you pay on time, every time.

  • Kinda like what I wrote, but +1 to welcome you to Money.SE. – JoeTaxpayer Dec 14 '14 at 23:26

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