Some background: I have no debt, have never carried a balance on the card, and have never used more than 10-15% of the credit limit per month. I'd much prefer to pay with debit/cash, but I got the credit card (BofA Visa) to establish some credit history so that I could be approved for a mortgage. I've had the card for about 6 months, but for various reasons I have switched my checking and savings to USAA. For mostly convenience reasons (and because I can use it at Costco!) I would like to switch to a USAA Amex card.

I know that cancelling a credit card can affect my credit score, but what are the circumstances in which it will do so? Given that I have never carried a balance, etc., will cancelling the card definitively hurt/help my credit score? Am I better off just keeping the card forgetting about it?

4 Answers 4


I wrote an article about FICO scoring which shows that 15% of your score is based on credit history. This chart (courtesy of my friends at Credit Karma) shows how the average age of open credit lines impacts your score.

credit score age

So, the answer to you is "it depends." If the account was well aged, it can hurt to cancel. If it was pretty new, or below the average age, it will actually improve the score.

  • Is this really true. I'm thinking about canceling a few and some sources on the net are arguing for keeping it. And never closing them if you don't have to.
    – sam yi
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 5:26
  • See my follow-up article How Many Cards Are You Carrying? Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 11:44

Seeing how it is your only card and you have only had it for 6 months closing it may not be the best thing for your FICO score at the moment, but it's also not going to kill it either. Like Joe mentioned ~15% is how much average age of accounts affects your FICO score but your old card will remain on your credit report and part of the scoring model for 7 years so it will lower your average age of accounts for the foreseeable future.

If you are canceling the card because you hate BOA just put the card in your sock drawer and forget about it. I don't like dealing with BOA either but I still have 3 or 4 cards from them that I haven't used since signing up for the bonuses and 0% offers.

At the end of the day it probably isn't going to make a bit of difference one way or another unless you are applying for a mortgage in the next year and your score is right on the line.


If your credit report shows no account balances, your credit utilization won't change when a card is canceled. In such a case, "you have a credit utilization percentage of zero percent. Thus, reducing your available credit in this instance will not change this percentage from zero percent and your score can remain unaffected," Paperno says. That's a good reason not to carry balances when you plan to close an account.

It is worth noting, however, that paying off your card balances every month doesn't guarantee that your credit report will show zero debt. That's because banks often report the most recent statement balance on your account, whether or not it has already been paid in full, to the credit bureaus.

Read more: http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/faq-jeremy-simon-cancel-close-credit-card-score-fico-1508.php#ixzz1Pwhv4sgg Compare credit cards here - CreditCards.com


In the short term, cancelling a credit card will reduce your credit score. Cancelling a credit card issued by a company you hate feels good.

In the long term, not having a credit card will truly improve your credit score, since you can't be late on a card that is closed, can't run up a balance on a card that is closed, can't have your interest rate increased at the whim of the non-existent card issuer, and you can't get jerked around by a company that you hate if the account is closed.

I'd say close the account, and make your mortgage issuer do some underwriting like they are supposed to. If you are incapable of paying a mortgage, having a bit of plastic in your sock drawer isn't going to magically improve things.

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