Danger of canceling unused credit cards

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Q. I’m 55, my house is paid and I have no debt. I have a large enough emergency fund and I’m comfortable with my investments. I’m considering canceling all my credit cards because I never use them. What do you think?
— Good credit

A. It’s great that you have no debt and that you don’t use your credit cards to get by.

But getting rid of your credit cards may have unintended consequences.

Jerry Lynch, a certified financial planner with JFL Total Wealth Management in Boonton, calls your idea “nuts.”

While you’re in a good credit position now, cancelling your cards will hurt your credit score, Lynch said.

Plus, what happens if your situation changes?

“Banks also generally do not lend you money when you need it. They lend it when you don’t need it,” Lynch said. “Having access to money is one of the most important things in any financial plan a person can have.”

He recommends you also have a home equity line of credit available to you — just in case.

“Understand I am not suggesting that you take on debt or do anything different. I am just saying you should have access to money without asking,” Lynch said. “Plan A never works. You need to have a plan B as well.”

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This post was first published in April 2016.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.