Should I Cancel My Credit Card?


Maybe you’ve had a card for a while and you don’t ever use it, or you used to use this credit card but now you don’t feel the annual fee is worth it. Maybe you signed up for a credit card just for the signup bonus and never had the intention of keeping it beyond that first year. You may be asking yourself, what do I do now? Should I cancel my credit card? Should I keep it? Can I downgrade it to another card? What even is downgrading?! Well, you are in luck because I am going to answer all those questions for you!

When to Keep Your Credit Card

  • Always keep your card if it doesn’t have an annual fee. I keep these cards open, even if I never use them anymore. One time years ago, before we were credit card whizzes, my husband went into our local credit union to close a credit card that we’d had for years but were no longer using. The card had no annual fee but we figured since we didn’t use it we might as well close it, right? WRONG! Luckily the banker explained to my husband that it would actually be worse for our credit if we closed this account. If we closed this card our credit utilization would go up and our average age of accounts would go down, two things that can bring your score down. If you are unsure what I am talking about then check out my beginner’s guide and scroll down to the part about credit scores.
  • Another reason you might keep a card is that the benefits that come with the card outweigh the annual fee. That is the case for me with my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. I get so much value out of this card that I don’t ever see myself not paying the $95 annual fee to keep it. I also keep most of my hotel cards because I get a free night certificate each year that is worth at least double (or more) my annual fee.


When to Downgrade Your Credit Card

Downgrading is when you change your credit card to a different card that doesn’t come with an annual fee. When I decide I don’t want to keep a certain card the first thing I look into is if there is an option to downgrade to another card so I can keep the account open. For example, we didn’t want to pay the annual fee on my husband’s Chase Ink Business Preferred Card again so we called into the bank and downgraded it to the no-fee Chase Ink Business Cash. It won’t look super stellar on your credit account if you open up 10 cards and close 9 of them in the same year. I try to not cancel more than half of the cards I open. But, I don’t want to pay an annual fee on a bunch of cards either. Here are some reasons you might downgrade:

  • You want to cancel the card but there is a no-fee version you can downgrade to instead.
  • You’ve had a card for a super long time and don’t want to cancel because you don’t want to bring down your average age of accounts but you also don’t want to pay the annual fee anymore as you don’t value it like you used to.
  • You want to get the signup bonus on this card again but you can’t apply for the card again if you currently have it. You downgrade it because you don’t want to have too many closed cards on your account.


When to Cancel Your Credit Card

Before you cancel, it may be worth calling the bank and speaking with someone from the retention department and seeing if they have any retention offers. This can be anything from waiving the annual fee to offering you points if you spend a certain amount on the card. Here are some reasons you might cancel a card:

  • You don’t value the benefits that come with the card enough to justify the annual fee and there isn’t a no-fee card you can downgrade to.
  • You want to get the signup bonus for this card again sometime but you can’t have this card and apply for it at the same time. For example, after having my Southwest card for a year I went ahead and canceled it (there isn’t a no-fee card to downgrade to). I then have to wait 24 months from when I received my bonus but then I can apply for the card and get the bonus again.
  • The bank offered you a retention bonus but you don’t feel the offer is worth keeping the card and paying the fee.



What it all comes down to is saving yourself some money and making travel a little easier. If your annual fee cards are doing either of those things for you then hang on to them. If you don’t feel like your annual fee cards are serving you well, then look into downgrading or canceling. Doctor of Credit has a helpful post about downgrading and shows you some of the cards you can downgrade to. Another easy way to find out if there is a card you can downgrade to is to call the bank and ask. And as always, contact me if you have any questions 🙂 And remember, don’t cancel those cards you have had for years and years!


man cutting up a credit card

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