The short answer is that nothing is likely to happen if you don’t use your credit card for a few months. Not using your card could actually help your credit score if you have a $0 balance when you stop (contrary to some common myths about keeping a small credit card balance being beneficial).
The longer answer is that exactly what happens if you don’t use your credit card depends on which card you have. Some rewards cards will revoke any unredeemed points, miles or cash back you have saved up if you don’t use your credit card at all for a certain period of time – usually around 12 months. And if you don’t use your credit card for 6 months or more, the issuer could close your account. But there’s no standard timeframe for when a credit card issuer will decide to close an account due to inactivity.
Having your account closed due to inactivity could hurt your credit standing and possibly make it seem like your credit history is shorter than it really is. However, you will not be charged any sort of inactivity fee by your credit card company if you don’t use your card to make purchases or other types of transactions for a prolonged period of time. Credit card inactivity fees are banned by law.
As a result, not using your credit card (at least not regularly) can be a great strategy if you want to build credit but are worried about overspending. You just have to make sure your balance is $0 when you stop using your card. A credit card with no balance will get reported to the credit bureaus as being in good standing each month, with an on-time payment and 0% credit utilization. That in turn will lead to credit score improvement if you manage the rest of your finances responsibly.
For your convenience, we’ll summarize the key points to remember below.
Here’s what happens if you don’t use your credit card:
- Nothing is likely to happen if you don’t use your credit card for a few months, as long as you make bill payments for any recurring monthly charges.
- The credit card’s issuer may decide to close your account after a long period of inactivity. There is no standard timeframe, but they will often send a notice in advance and give you a chance to use your card first.
- Some credit card rewards will expire after a certain period of account inactivity. You’ll also lose any rewards you’ve yet to redeem when your account is closed.
- If the credit card you’re not using has a $0 balance and is in good standing, positive information will be added to your credit reports each month the account stays open.
- Unpaid balances from before you stopped using the card will continue to accrue interest. If your balances have been paid in full, you won’t have to send in any new payments.
- If your credit card charges an annual fee, not using the card won’t get you out of having to pay. And if you’re not getting anything out of a card that you’re paying for, you might want to close it.
The bottom line is that not using your card can still be good for your credit. And it’s far better than using your card irresponsibly. So if you don’t trust yourself to limit your spending, it may be wise to set your card aside until you have a necessary expense.
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