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What Happens If You Don't Use Your Credit Card

Last Updated: February 15, 2024
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 negatively 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.

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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. If a company closes your credit card account due to inactivity, it may impact your credit score, according to FICO1. That’s because closing a credit card account reduces your overall available credit, which increases your credit utilization ratio. Closing an older credit card may also hurt your score by reducing the average age of your accounts. 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.

Your credit card terms may explain whether your card issuer may close your account after a period of inactivity. It’s a good idea, regardless, to use your card periodically and help prevent your account from closing. Using your card may also allow you to access rewards, like cash back.

The bottom line: if you don’t use your credit card, you could lose your account.

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 they reflect 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'll 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. Plus, you could leave yourself vulnerable to more fraud.

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

It’s important to consider your credit score, available credit, and overall financial situation 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's 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 help your credit score while also offering rewards that benefit you.

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 rewards that are most valuable for you.

It’s also possible that you have 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 a potential impact on your credit history.

No matter the circumstances, understanding what may happen to your account if you don’t use your credit card could help you make thoughtful financial decisions.

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  1. FICO® Credit Score Terms: Your FICO® Credit Score, key factors and other credit information are based on data from TransUnion® and may be different from other credit scores and other credit information provided by different bureaus. This information is intended for and only provided to Primary account holders who have an available score. See Discover.com/FICO about the availability of your score. Your score, key factors and other credit information are available on Discover.com. Customers will see up to a year of recent scores online. Discover and other lenders may use different inputs, such as FICO® Credit Scores, other credit scores and more information in credit decisions. This benefit may change or end in the future. FICO is a registered trademark of Fair Isaac Corporation in the United States and other countries.

  • Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.