If you have a credit card you need to cancel, don’t just cut in half and throw it away. Protect yourself, your identity and your credit score by taking all the steps necessary to close the account permanently.
Here are 6 steps to properly canceling a credit card account.
1. Pay off the balance first.
Many issuers don’t require you do this before closing the account, of course, but if you close it with a zero balance, then you won’t have to remember to do it later.
You can also transfer the balance to a new card–preferably one with a zero interest balance transfers offer.
Update your subscriptions and auto-pays to your new card too.
2. Redeem your rewards.
No time like the present.
Figure out how to use or transfer your rewards and bonuses and enjoy them before they’re gone.
3. Call customer service.
Find the phone number on the back of the card and dial to speak to a representative.
Note that person’s name and verify you have a zero balance. Tell them you are canceling your card.
You’ll have to listen to their retention offer, but confirm you are canceling the card and have them note that the closing is at your request.
4. Write and send a cancellation letter.
Go old school and follow up your phone call with a letter via certified mail including your name, address, phone number, account number and detailing your call with the bank’s representative.
Repeat you want the account noted it was closed at your request and ask for verification you closed it with zero balance. It may sound like overkill but you never know what happens when you hang up the phone with customer service.
5. Get a copy of your credit report.
Review your credit report for free once a year from each of the three credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian and Equifax) at AnnualCreditReport.com, It will take at least a month for the canceled account to appear.
Make sure it says closed at customer’s request. If it doesn’t, call customer service.
6. Now you can cut up your credit card.
Put it through a shredder or cut it up into little pieces.
It’s not necessary, honestly, to cancel a credit card. But do it if there’s a high annual fee and you no longer need the perks from it. You also have to keep an eye on your interest rate. A rate that’s out of line with what else you can get may prompt you to cancel that card.
But, no matter the reason, make sure you follow these steps to make sure you and your future credit are protected.