Christie Matherne, Credit Card Writer
To combine credit cards, start by calling your card issuer to request merging the accounts. Some card issuers also allow you to combine credit cards online. If the card issuer approves the request, you should end up with one credit card with the combined total credit limit of both original cards, as well as their combined outstanding balance. You will have to choose which card you want to keep, though – one of the accounts will be closed when you combine them. Also, the cards you want to combine must be from the same card issuer – two Capital One cards or two American Express cards, for example. Both credit cards must be issued to the same person, too.
But not all card issuers allow combining credit card accounts, and some will only allow it on a case-by-case basis. People in online forums have reported that some issuers require the accounts to have been open for a certain amount of time before they’ll let you combine them. It’s certainly not a well-known feature among card issuers – likely because it’s not in high demand among cardholders.
Reasons to combine credit cards
There are a few reasons why someone would want to combine credit cards. For one, people who have a lot of credit cards might want to combine some so they don’t have to keep track of so many due dates. Second, combining two balances and credit limits into one big balance and one credit limit will keep both your credit utilization and your available credit intact. So it looks better on your credit report than simply closing a credit card would. Lastly, it’s a good way to stop paying an annual fee on a credit card you no longer use.
The cons of combining credit cards
There are some potential downsides to combining credit accounts. The card you choose to close will be gone, along with its interest rate and rewards-earning potential. You may also lose any rewards you’ve been accumulating on that card – especially if the two cards you combine don’t share the same rewards currency. If you’re considering combining cards, it’s important that you ask your card issuer what will happen to any rewards you’ve earned on the card but not yet redeemed.
Another thing to consider is the age of the account you choose to close. If the card you close is one of your older credit accounts, your average age of credit will shrink, which will affect your credit score. That’s worth thinking about if you’re planning on using your credit score for anything important in the near future, such as buying a home or taking out an auto loan.
How to combine credit cards from different card issuers
Those looking to consolidate multiple credit cards from different card issuers will not have much luck combining credit card accounts. But you can combine amounts owed across those cards by doing a balance transfer or paying the debts with a debt consolidation loan.
A balance transfer is essentially paying one debt with a different, lower-APR credit card; and those come with their own fees and APRs. On the other hand, a debt consolidation loan pays off the debt, then you pay off the loan over time. Neither of these methods will result in a closed credit card account, which is good news for your credit score. You can close an account after the debt is paid if you want, but there’s no need to.
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Claire Pellet, Member
If you're looking to combine 2 or more credit cards into a single one, they all have to come from a single issuer. The question now becomes issuer-based, as not many lenders allow that (I think Cap One does it).
If you meant "consolidation", which is transferring your balances onto a single card, then you'll have some serious trouble with it. With a bad credit score, your options are pretty much limited to secured cards, which don't allow balance transfers.
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