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- Credit card issuers can close your account for a few reasons, including if you violate the terms of your agreement or stop using the card for an extended period of time
- If this happens to you and you’re interested in keeping the account open, contact your issuer and see what they can do
- Whether or not you can retain your rewards depends on the type of rewards the card earns (for example, standard points versus miles earned with a co-branded airline card)
Credit card holders look to their cards as a convenient and ready source of financing. You might be surprised to learn a credit card issuer can close your account without notification for a variety of reasons.
What should you do in this situation? And what happens to any rewards you had on the card?
Banks don’t need to notify about credit card account closings
The Truth in Lending Act requires your card issuer to notify you of certain significant changes to the terms of your card account. For instance, it must notify you at least 45 days in advance before raising some fees — and also before raising your card interest rate.
However, if your variable interest rate is based on an index, such as the prime rate, and the index goes up, your issuer does not have to notify you that your interest rate will go up as well. The issuer also doesn’t have to give you advance notice of when your promotional interest period will end (though you should already be aware of such information from the terms of the promotional offer).
Issuers also don’t have to notify you in advance if they decide to close your credit card account.
Reasons for an issuer to close a card account
If you are not on board with any change that your card issuer notifies you about to the terms of your credit card account, it could go ahead and close your account.
If you violated the terms of your card agreement in some fashion, that could also cause the issuer to shut down your account. Another cause could be that you haven’t used your credit card in a while. Card issuers would then not be making any money off you and would prefer to extend credit to someone else who makes them money.
Issuers also tend to review your financial situation from time to time. They could look into your creditworthiness and decide whether to continue doing business with you. They could consider input such as the number of late payments on your account, if there are any liens against you, how many new credit accounts you have and if you have overextended yourself. If they find your financial situation has deteriorated since they first approved you for their card, they could decide to cancel it.
And in case you are a joint account holder on the card, and the other person on the account passes away or no longer wants to be on the account, the bank issuer might want to see if you continue to qualify for the card on your own strength to decide whether to continue extending credit to you.
Talk to your card issuer
Whatever the reason, if you did not like this surprise and want to hold on to your card, your best bet is to negotiate with the issuer. Contact a representative, tell them that you want to continue using your card and see what they can do for you.
As for any rewards you have on the card, whether you can retain them after a card’s closing depends on what type of rewards they are. If they’re made out by your card issuer itself, you will most likely not have access to them following a card’s closing. However, if the rewards are issued by another entity, such as miles issued by an airline, in a tie-up with the issuer, you will likely be able to hold on to those miles.
The bottom line
A card issuer can close your credit card without advance notification. If you haven’t been using your card or you violated the terms of your card account, that could lead the issuer to close it. It can periodically review your account and, in case you appear less creditworthy than when you opened the account, that could be another cause for an issuer to close it. In any event, if you want to hold on to the account, be sure to negotiate with your issuer.
Contact me at email@example.com with your credit card-related questions.