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Unused Credit cards
Old 06-22-2010, 09:59 AM   #1
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Unused Credit cards

Now that I've got a Penfed Platinum card, I get 5% back on all gas purchases at the pump, not just the 5% on Shell only or 1% from BP only.

So I can ask Shell and BP to cancel those cards, or just throw them in the safe and probably they will be cancelled for inactivity, or make a couple of purchases per year (wonder how many are needed?) to try keeping them alive.


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Old 06-22-2010, 10:05 AM   #2
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How long have the accounts been open and what is their credit limit relative to your total credit limit?

If these are accounts that have been open for many years and their combined credit line represents a large portion of your total available revolving credit, I'd leave them open unless you are very confident you won't mind the hit on your credit score for a couple years. If these are recently opened accounts and represent a small percentage of available credit, the hit to the credit score (if any) may be small enough that it's fine to just simplify things and cancel them. If you don't plan to use these again, I'd actually cancel them actively rather than letting the accounts age.

For example -- I have a Visa from my CU which I almost never use since there's no cash back or other rewards attached to it. However, I've had this account open since the early 1990s and has a $20,000 credit limit, so losing this account could put a decent hit on my credit score. I charge $10-20 on it about once every 3-6 months to keep it open. I don't know that my CU is known to cancel accounts to inactivity, but why chance it?

Having said that, I'd recommend making sure you always have two cards. Sometimes weird things happen and your primary card may be refused for some reason (system glitch, your card number flagged as compromised by the bank, et cetera) -- in which case it's good to have a backup.

"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)
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Old 06-22-2010, 02:28 PM   #3
Recycles dryer sheets
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The Shell card has been open for only 4 years, $8k limit.
The BP card has been open for nearly 20 years but only a $1k limit.

I do have two other cards (Visa and Mastercard) with other rewards that are better for me, so I use the gas cards and probably the new Penfed, mostly for gas purchases.

My total revolving credit limit is something like $50k in addition to the Shell & BP cards. OTOH, I am making timely payments on the loan we just took out for a new Toyota, that 1.9% seemed like a pretty good deal.

When I checked a couple of months ago, my credit score was within 50 pts of the max possible.
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