Use credit cards you don't want to lose
Though the Credit CARD Act banned issuers from charging inactivity fees, nothing prevents an issuer from shutting down an unprofitable account or reducing the credit limit. As our 2010 study of credit card fees shows, a number of card issuers close accounts if they go unused for too long.
While there are no guaranteed ways of preventing an unwanted shutdown, it's smart to regularly use credit cards you want to keep. Pay in full to stay out of debt.
Watch for your free credit score if rejected for a credit card or loan
Thanks to a provision in the Dodd-Frank Act, you will soon have the right to see your credit score -- for free -- if the lender or company has rejected your application or approved you for a higher rate because of your credit report or score. The creditor must send an adverse action notice containing the score used against the consumer, which means that you might even see a credit score not sold to consumers, such as FICO 8 scores.
As of Jan. 1, 2011, access to free credit scores may broaden. New risk-based pricing rules take effect that require creditors to inform applicants in certain cases that they didn't qualify for the best terms. An exception to that requirement is if the creditor provides a free credit score disclosure to anyone who applies. In other words, if the lender opts to provide free credit scores to all applicants instead of just to applicants who receive bad news, you may get a free credit score just for trying to open an account.
Make use of credit freebies
You don't have to rely on regulations to obtain a free credit score. The Bankrate story, "How to get a free credit score," shows you five websites, including Equifax.com, through which you can order a free score that isn't attached to a fee-based credit monitoring service. While the score or score range delivered is not an actual FICO score, the score most commonly used by lenders, you will get a sense of whether you have "good" credit.
Remember to check your credit report as well, since your credit score is based on it. You have the right to request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies once every 12 months under federal law. You can order your free credit reports all at once or throughout the year. Be sure to visit AnnualCreditReport.com, the centralized source for free annual credit reports under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, and not a for-profit website that charges monthly fees after a trial period. Once you receive your report, examine it carefully and dispute any inaccuracies.