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What Happens If You Don’t Use Your Credit Card?

Last Updated: March 28, 2023
4 min read

Key points about: not using your credit card

  1. Your credit card account may be closed due to inactivity if you don’t use it.

  2. You could overlook fraudulent charges if you’re not regularly reviewing your account.

  3. If your credit card account is closed, it could impact your credit score.

What happens if you don’t use your credit card for a long time?   

While every person decides how to best use their credit card based on their needs, not using your credit card at all can have some consequences. Once you know what can happen when you don’t use your credit card, you can figure out what’s best for the cards you use infrequently.

Your credit card could be closed due to inactivity

Credit card companies often review account activity and may close accounts that haven’t been used for an extended period of time. If a company closes your credit card account due to inactivity, it may impact your credit score—even if you didn’t intend to cancel your card. (The dip in your credit score may be bigger the longer you’ve had the account.) Plus, if your credit card is canceled, you lose the ability to use it for emergencies, making hotel reservations, renting a car, or other transactions that require a credit card.

Some credit card issuers may state in their terms what length of time they will consider an account inactive, but, in general, it’s best to use your card periodically to help prevent it from being closed due to inactivity.

The bottom line: if you don’t use your credit card, you could lose access to it for unplanned or large expenses.

Monitoring fraudulent activity

If you don’t use your card for a month, it’s easy to assume that you don’t need to look at your statement. But that may leave you vulnerable. If you don’t check your monthly statements to ensure it reflects your actual credit card activity, fraudulent charges could go unseen for weeks or months. Even if you don’t use your card often, it’s a good idea to regularly log in to your account online or on the app to make sure nothing looks suspicious. If you’re not aware of unauthorized charges and never report them, your credit card issuer may not know they’re unauthorized and they will show on your monthly statement. If you end up missing a credit card payment because you aren’t aware of the unauthorized charges on your credit card, that may impact your credit. You could also be charged additional late fees.

Should you cancel a credit card you don’t use?

It’s important to consider your credit history, available credit, and big-picture financial standing before canceling a credit card. There may be ways to manage your credit card usage instead of nixing the card altogether. 

For example, if your credit card charges a high interest rate, that doesn’t mean you’ll automatically pay a lot to use it. In fact, if you pay off your card balance (how much you’ve spent and owe on your card) completely every month, you might never find yourself paying interest. So, you could keep the credit card and use it for small purchases every month and pay the balance in full before your due date to avoid paying interest. This may help build up your payment history, which factors into your credit score. By using and paying off your card every month, rather than leaving it unused to potentially be closed by the credit card company, you can prevent any dips in your credit score caused by closing an account.

If you find you aren’t using a particular card often, it may be worth seeing if there is a credit card with a rewards program that could be more useful for you. With some credit card companies, you can switch to a different card with the rewards program you prefer without changing your card number or closing the account. This may be a good compromise that could improve your credit score while also offering rewards that benefit you the most.

Did you know?

With so many rewards programs available, it can be hard to choose the right one for you. Every Discover Card earns rewards on purchases. Choose the card that earns the type of rewards that are most valuable for you.

Learn More About Discover Rewards Credit Cards

It’s also possible that you have just too many cards to manage and canceling one or two could help you better organize your overall finances. Sometimes the simplicity of having fewer cards is worth any potential impact to your credit.

No matter the circumstances, being aware of what could happen to your financial wellness if you close a credit card account can help inform your decision to close an account or find a better way to use it.

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