Do Credit Cards Get Cancelled If Not Used?

August 27, 2014, Written By Natalie Rutledge
Wallet With Credit Cards

Are you worried your credit card may get cancelled if it just sits in your wallet? After all, it does have an expiration date. While there is some merit to this concern, the fact is most credit card companies will not cancel your account unless you ask them to do so. Let’s examine some different scenarios that may cause your credit card to be cancelled.

Defining “Unused”

There are two different types of unused credit cards: those that have balances on them and those that do not. If your credit card has no balance on it and you have not used it in a while, it should still be active the next time you use it. There are some exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, you won’t be punished for not using your credit card.

If you are not paying the balance on your card, your credit card company may cancel the account after a period of time. Eventually, the balance will go to collections, and then you will have to work out your debts with them. If you are making regular payments on the balance, your card should remain active as long as you keep up with the payments.

Credit Cards You Have to Use to Remain Active

There are occasions when cards will have rules about how often they must be used to keep the account active. This is most often the case with gift cards or debit cards, rather than traditional credit cards. You may need to use your card at least once a month to remain enrolled in your rewards program, but you can still keep your account if you choose not to make a purchase. It all depends on the terms associated with your credit card.

If you are concerned your credit card will be cancelled if you do not use it, contact your credit card provider to find out what would cause them to cancel your account. Most of them will only cancel if you call in to request it or you stop making monthly payments on the account.

What about the Expiration Date?

Credit card expiration dates have nothing to do with the expiration of the account itself. This just means the physical card will no longer be active after a certain date. There are several reasons why credit card companies put expiration dates on credit cards, including:

  • Credit card companies get a chance to send out new cards with a new image.
  • Consumers get an opportunity to obtain a new card once their original one starts to wear down.
  • Credit card companies can update the features of their cards, such as switching over to an EMV or chip and Pin credit card.

You should get a notification from your credit card company well before your credit card expires indicating you will receive a new card. Most companies will send out a new one to save you the hassle of ordering one. Then, all you have to do is activate the card and use it, or store it like you did before.

Should You Cancel Your Unused Credit Cards?

If you don’t have any temptation from seeing unused credit cards in your wallet, keep these accounts open. These accounts will help lower your overall debt rate, which will improve your credit score. They will also increase the length of your credit history, which will again improve your score. The only reason to get rid of a card is if it is costing you annual fees or tempting you to make purchases you cannot afford.

Do credit cards get cancelled if not used? In the majority of cases, not at all. You remain in control of how active your cards are until you stop paying on them.



The information contained within this article was accurate as of August 27, 2014. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.


About Natalie Rutledge

Natalie Rutledge majored in Communications at Mississippi State University. She was in sales for a number of businesses and spent nine years working as a communications advisor to various entities. Natalie can be contacted directly at [email protected]
View all posts by Natalie Rutledge