"Once they are approved and they get the card, if they decided they don't want it, they should cancel it," says Betty Riess, a spokeswoman for Bank of America.
New credit cards usually come with a sticker attached asking you to "activate" the card. Yet not activating the card doesn't render the account closed. Activation simply "confirms that you got it and it's you," says Riess.
If you don't make purchases on the card, the issuer will likely close the account after a period of inactivity anyway.
Cancel right away and the account may not even be reported to the credit reporting agencies, which means the credit card won't show up in your credit history. A previous column, "Does unactivated credit card hurt score?" explains that once the account is on your credit report, it can have an effect on your credit score. As for the hard inquiry triggered by the credit check for the new card, that will stay on your credit report for two years. Typically, a single credit card inquiry only knocks about five points off your score.
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