Think Twice About Cancelling Credit Cards You No Longer Use
It may seem like a good idea to close credit card accounts you no longer use to avoid annual fees or if you’re not benefiting from reward programs during the pandemic. However, doing so could have an adverse impact on your credit rating. That’s because credit utilization weighs heavily in calculating your credit score.
How Credit Utilization Works
While it may sound counterintuitive, when you close a credit card account, you lose the available credit limit on that account. This makes your credit utilization ratio—the percentage of your available credit in use—jump up. Lenders interpret that as a sign of increased risk because it shows you're using a higher amount of your available credit.
For example, if you have two separate credit cards with a credit limit of $5,000 on each, your combined available credit on the two cards is $10,000. If you have a $5,000 outstanding balance on one and a zero balance on the other, your credit utilization rate would be 50%. However, if you close the zero-balance card, that lowers your total available credit from $10,000 to $5,000, thus raising your credit utilization rate to 100%. According to Experian, one of three national credit reporting companies, ideally, you want to keep your credit utilization rate to 30% or less of outstanding credit to help maintain a strong credit score.1
Should You Downgrade to Save on Fees?
If you’re no longer benefiting from travel, dining or other credit card reward programs, but are still paying high annual fees, downgrading your card may be an option. Downgrading generally involves switching to a card from the same issuer, within the same card portfolio, that has either a lower annual fee or no annual fee and fewer benefits, while maintaining the same credit line. Later, you can switch back to a rewards card. This enables you to maintain your credit utilization ratio while lowering or eliminating credit card fees.
However, before downgrading, read the fine print to make sure that switching to another card won’t result in losing unused rewards. Take time to weigh the value of any unused rewards that you may lose against the cost of annual fees to determine if downgrading is worth it. If you’re not sure, or you have additional questions, contact your credit card provider.
If you have questions about managing your finances, call the office to schedule time to talk.
6 Virtual Travel Experiences that Don't Require Leaving Home
Travel plans cancelled or put on hold? No problem! Thanks to a growing number of websites and streaming services, you don’t have to leave home to experience national parks, world heritage sites, and iconic destinations around the world. And thanks to your smart phone, tablet, or laptop—you can go right now, without packing a bag, boarding a flight, or waiting in line.
Below are six virtual excursions and tours you don’t want to miss.
Retire Wise | October 2020
October 13, 2020|