I have two credit cards, a VISA and a MasterCard.

I primarily use my MasterCard and only use my VISA when MC isn't accepted. I went about 18 months without using my VISA (I didn't use it at all in 2010. I don't know if there are consequences to that either...). For some odd reason I received a cash back of $1.25 in January, putting my balance at -$1.25.

I finally used my VISA again today, but I had forgotten about the negative balance so it remained on my card all this time.

Is having a negative balance for so long going to hurt me in any way? I'm Canadian if it matters.

  • How long exactly have you had a credit? In the US I had a card that had a small balance and they sent me a check (for less that a dollar) after 90 days. I think that is the card member agreement, but perhaps it is a law.
    – MrChrister
    Jun 10 '11 at 15:47
  • @MrChrister, I've had my VISA account for about 4-5 years now.
    – Brandon
    Jun 10 '11 at 15:50
  • I mean how long have you had a credit on the card. How long have they owed you $1.25?
    – MrChrister
    Jun 10 '11 at 15:51
  • @MrChrister, oh sorry. It was credited to me at the beginning of January. So about 5 months.
    – Brandon
    Jun 10 '11 at 15:54
  • Credit card companies wont report what they owe you to the credit bureaus - so it's probably being seen in the system as a $0 balance with the same nett effect as $0.
    – gef05
    Jun 10 '11 at 16:44

A credit balance can happen any time you have a store return, but paid the bill in full. It's no big deal. Why not just charge the next gas purchase or small grocery store purchase, to cycle it through?

Yes - unused cards can get canceled by the bank, and that can hurt your credit score. In the US anyway. I'm guessing it's the same system or similar in Canada.

  • How does this affect credit utilization, though? Does it count as <0? (The comments above seem inconclusive) Jul 30 '13 at 3:39

The only consequence I could see is that they have your money until they pay you back.

I'd just do what JoeTaxpayer says and get it back.


I have a visa with Scotiabank and I purposefully keep a negative balance at times. The guy at the bank said it was a great idea. I have never received a cheque, nor do I want one. The reason is that it allows me to make quick purchases without having to worry about paying back and due dates. Only with large purchases do I allow myself to do that. I still check in with my account every once in a while just to make sure everything is all right. It allows for good money management and piece of mind. I have been doing it for a couple of years and have not been penalized at all. (Wouldn't really make sense to do so though.)

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