Key takeaways

  • You can cancel a credit card application by calling or emailing the credit card company’s customer service department — but you’ve limited time to act.
  • If you missed the window to cancel, you can keep and use the card or request a credit card swap if you don’t plan to close it.
  • After you’ve received your new card, you can close it — but weigh the potential drawbacks, including negative effects on your credit history.

Applying for a new credit card and realizing it’s not what you actually want can turn an exciting moment into one that’s stressful. Sometimes credit card issuers offer two credit cards with similar names, making it easy to choose the wrong one. Or perhaps you learned about a better sign-up bonus after applying for one of today’s best credit cards.

You might be able to cancel a card application depending on where it is in the approval process, starting with contacting the credit card issuer. But it’s not the only solution if you regret clicking Submit. We take a close look at how to cancel a credit card application, what to do if you can’t and whether you should cancel a new card you no longer want.

How to cancel a credit card application

Canceling a credit card application is possible, but you’ll need to act fast. Most credit card issuers conduct a hard check on your credit report within a few minutes of applying. And after the application is approved or denied, it’s too late to cancel.

First, check the status of your application by logging in to the online account or app you used to apply. If the decision is still pending or under review, you may be able to cancel your application by calling customer support and requesting your application to be canceled.

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Keep in mind: If you submitted a mail-in credit card application, you may have time to cancel while your paper application makes its way through the postal service.

Unfortunately, it’s likely your credit card application will be approved or denied before you have the opportunity to cancel it. Credit issuers make application decisions very quickly — within minutes or even immediately, if you’re preapproved — so when you apply for a new credit card, it’s important to make sure you’re applying for a card you really want.

Otherwise, you’ll waste a precious hard credit check and risk losing a few points from your credit score. Each new credit application registers a hard credit inquiry on your credit report which lowers your credit score by up to 10 points. That might not sound like much, but keeping credit applications to a minimum is to your advantage.

What to do if you can’t cancel a credit card application

If you missed your window to cancel your card application, you have three options to make the most out of the situation.

1. Use the new credit card

Even if it doesn’t have the best credit card rewards or the zero percent intro APR offer you saw on another credit card, you can still benefit from keeping and using the credit card.

Using the new card can add to your credit history when you spend responsibly. As long as you’re mindful of making timely payments, and maintaining a credit utilization under 30 percent, you could see improvements to your credit score.

If you’re concerned about accumulating debt and sticking to healthy spending habits, request that a high credit limit be lowered to help curb spending. By using your credit card responsibly and paying off your statement balances before your grace period expires, you won’t have to pay interest on your purchases.

2. Request a credit card swap

If your new credit card charges an annual fee, for example, you could request to switch credit cards to a no-annual-fee version of the same card through the customer service line. You might even be able to swap a travel rewards credit card for a credit card offering cash back rewards, as long as both cards are offered by the same issuer.

Requesting a swap typically doesn’t trigger another credit check unless you want to switch to a more exclusive card with higher credit requirements. To take advantage of this option, you simply need to contact your card issuer’s customer support and ask.

3. Cancel the card

If you don’t want to keep or use the new credit card, and there are no other credit cards from the credit issuer to fit your needs, your last option should be to cancel the new credit card. Closing a brand-new credit card account has a few upsides, but there are some disadvantages to consider as well.

Should you cancel a newly approved credit card? What to look out for

If you missed the short window to cancel your application and are considering closing your newly approved credit card, weigh how it might affect your overall credit and use ratios.

  • You may need to pay upfront fees first. If you mistakenly signed up for a credit card with an annual fee, it’s likely to show up as an immediate charge to your new account. That means you’re responsible for paying off the annual fee plus any accrued or residual interest before you can close the card.
  • Closing your card can skew the length of your credit history. The age of your credit history makes up 15 percent of your credit score, and part of that calculation is the age of all your credit accounts. A short account on your credit report could skew the calculation for this aspect of your score.
  • It might signal risk for future lenders. Planning to get another credit card after closing this one? Closing a card quickly after opening it tells potential lenders that you’re a higher risk for credit churning — or opening (and closing) cards solely to earn introductory offers. It could affect your chance of approval for a new card with better benefits and perks.
  • It reduces your available credit. Canceling your new line of credit will reduce the total amount of credit available to you, which has negative effects on your credit score. Some 30 percent of your FICO credit score is based on your credit utilization ratio — the ratio of your available credit to your current debts. Closing a new credit card could raise your credit utilization and decrease your score.

You can’t decline a credit card after being accepted, but you can always cancel your new credit card if you don’t want the new account. Canceling a new credit line might be the right move if you’re worried about going into debt you can’t pay off. Or if you have a strong credit history and credit score high enough to handle the impact without diminishing your ability to qualify for other cards.

How to cancel a newly approved credit card

To cancel a new credit card, start by checking your balance and then call your card issuer:

  1. Make sure any outstanding balances on the credit card are paid off in full or transferred to another card.
  2. Call the number on the back of your card and speak with a representative to request to close the account.
  3. Request a certified letter from the card issuer confirming your request to cancel.
  4. Check your credit reports with the three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — to confirm that your account is reported as closed.
  5. Destroy the credit card to prevent future fraud or misuse.

After you’ve successfully confirmed that the credit card is closed, you might be tempted to apply for a card with better terms, rewards and benefits soon after. Yet, it’s best to wait three to six months before applying for another card to increase your chance of being accepted.


  • Applying for a credit card is unlike a loan, where applying results in a loan offer that you can either accept or decline. Approval for the credit card is the offer itself, and by submitting an application, you’re accepting the terms of that credit card. However, just because you’re approved for the card doesn’t mean you’re required to keep it or use it. You can also choose to close the card if the benefits outweigh the consequences for you.
  • If you choose to cancel a newly approved credit card, you could face a decrease to your credit score and negative impacts to your credit history. You might also need to pay off an upfront annual fee if your credit card charges one. And to give yourself a stronger chance of approval for a different credit card, you’ll want to give yourself a buffer of three to six months between applications.
  • Yes, canceling a new credit card can have negative effects on your credit score by affecting factors like your credit utilization, and age of credit history.
  • If you don’t want to cancel a new credit card, you can choose to keep the card and use it responsibly, or keep it and avoid using it to bolster your available credit. You could also request a credit card swap through your credit issuer’s customer service department and switch to a credit card that better suits your needs.

The bottom line

Can you actually cancel a credit card application? Maybe — but only if you’re able to contact customer service before the bank or credit issuer makes an approval decision. In many cases, credit card applications are approved or declined within minutes, making it difficult to cancel an application in time.

If you apply for a credit card, are approved and decide you no longer want the card, you can request to swap the card for another card offered by the same issuer. Or cancel the new credit card — just be aware of potential negative effects on your credit score. Keeping the credit card and using it responsibly might be your best option.