credit card

What happens to my credit score if I cancel some cards?


Q. I have seven credit cards but I really only use one of them. I know canceling cards can affect your credit score. What should I do with the cards, and if I should cancel, how do I decide which ones? They all basically have the same interest rate but I don’t keep balances anyway.
— Borrower

A. We’re glad that you’re paying attention to your credit.

There is no hard and fast rule on the best number of credit cards.

If you are managing all the payments and it sounds like you are, here’s what you should consider before dumping any of them.

If you wanted to close one or two cards, you need to consider the length of the credit history, the payment history of the card and the credit limit, said Debra Ohstrom, a chartered financial analyst and financial educator.

If it’s an old card and you used it in the past, but you’re not using it anymore, you don’t want to lose that reliable payment and long credit history, she said.

“At least 30% of your credit score factors in reliable payment history so it’s really important,” she said. “Creditors like to see a reliable payment history and the longer, the better, which shows you are responsible and stable.”

The other thing to consider is the credit limit.

Ohstrom said even if you don’t use the card, if it has a high limit, that’s beneficial to your score.

“Having a lot of available credit and not actually using it means you have low credit utilization, which is an important part of your credit score,” she said. “If you can keep your credit utilization below 30%, it’s ideal.”

If you cancel many cards, you will lose the history and your available credit will go down, which will likely lower your credit rating, she said.

Having three cards is certainly good and five is no problem, especially if you don’t overuse them, she said.

“It also would be helpful to look at your recent credit report and see if there are any comments in regards to your score,” Ohstrom said. “If your credit report has any comments about large amounts of revolving credit or your payment history, then that can help you make a decision as to the best course of action for you.”

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This story was originally published on Nov. 17, 2021. 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.