Easy Way to Close Credit Card Accounts You Don’t Want

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Ususually getting rewards cards (and the associated sign-up bonuses) is the fun part, but closing them is not near as fun.  Aside from the process of having to decide which cards to keep and which ones to close, the process of actually closing the accounts is not one of my favorite tasks.  It ranks somewhere around scooping dog poop in the back yard and installing car seats in rental cars.  In other words, I don’t like doing it.

I am a 30-something who doesn’t look forward to chatting on the phone in general, and certainly not with customer service reps who will likely transfer you at least once, and will often do their best to try to keep you as a customer even if all you want to do is just close the account.  I have even read a recent report that one rep started crying when someone said they wanted to cancel their card.  Maybe it’s just me, I am around enough tears in a course of a week with my young kiddo – I don’t need to hear anymore as a result of trying to close a credit card!  Though I do feel bad if they are blamed for account closures.

So, when the first free year was up on a rewards card that I had, it was time to get it closed.  I wasn’t using it, didn’t get any useful annual benefits from keeping it, I already had another similar card, and didn’t have any need to continue to hold on to it – certainly not just for the privilege of paying an annual fee.  Don’t get me wrong, I pay annual fees on several cards that offer good ongoing benefits to me (or that I just keep for the account history), but that doesn’t mean that I am a hoarder who keeps all cards.

Given all of that, earlier this week it was time to get this closure off of my “to-do” list.  I preferred not to call, so I did what any self respecting Generation X-er would do, I asked online to close the card.  I utilized the secure messaging feature for my account, and sent a very brief message that said I would like to close my account ending in XXXX as I am not really using it very much, and I have another similar account already.  About a day later I received a message back saying that account XXXX was closed and that the updated information would be reported on my credit reports within 45 days showing that I requested the account closure.  Indeed the account now shows as closed on my online banking homepage.

The entire process of writing the secure message and reading the reply took about 60 seconds.  Couldn’t hardly be any easier.  The task is now officially moved to the “done” list.  I’m sure closing accounts online isn’t possible with all banks.  I have heard success stories with both Chase and Amex, but would be interested to hear success stories with other banks.  There are some situations when closing an account online is not a good idea.  The main reason would be if you want to try and get a retention bonus for keeping the card.  A retention bonus might come in the form of a waived or reduced annual fee, some bonus points/miles, or a challenge to spend x in x amount of time for a bonus of some sort.  You can read about my experience getting a retention bonus with my Citi AAdvantage Amex last year.  In this case I had very little spending on the card, so wouldn’t be a very desirable customer to keep, and at the end of the day I didn’t want a retention bonus, I just wanted the card closed.

….and that is exactly what I got in 60 seconds flat.  No complaints here!

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  1. How do you manage losing a credit line from that card? Does it hurt your score? I have a 10 year old Citi AAdvantage card with a veru high credit limit that I don’t use at all but always concerned about closing it.

  2. I often wondered about doing it this way – having been in the game for just a little over a year, this may start proving very handy!

  3. Have done this multiple times with Chase. You can even request credit lines to be reallocated to existing cards and they’ll take care of it.

  4. Santastico, my credit line on that card wasn’t very large to begin with. If it had been I might have moved some credit line away from it first to another card. However, I also am likely approaching my credit limit with that bank, so dumping it may make it more likely to score an instant approval in the future. It is a balancing act. If you close your Citi card with a very high limit it can impact your overall debt to credit ratio. However, if you don’t have much debt on your cards then the impact will be smaller. If it is your oldest card I would possibly keep it or downgrade it to a fee-free card.
    JAG, works well sometimes if you just want to close the card!
    Ann, very true. 😉

  5. hmmm, to those that have closed via secure messaging, have they ever offered a retention bonus via messaging? or just “you’re all set – account closed”?

  6. The only issuers I’ve come across so far who won’t process card closure requests online are Barclays and Capital One, although some have reported that if you are persistent with Capital One and keep responding to their online replies (telling you to call in), they will eventually relent and close the card for you.

  7. @jag: I’ve done this about 4-5 times but never been offered anything.
    @sergey: yes, I closed my amex account about a week ago by using this method.

  8. I usually do it online as well, but now try to hold on to them to ante them up when calling the reconsideration line. It works all the time, even if I’m on a wacky application streak ( notice I didn’t say ap-o-rama)…

  9. @JAG – “you’re all set – account closed” If you want to get some kind of retention offer you will need to call in.

  10. If I want a new us bank credit card and already have 2 and don’t want one of those 2. Should I close the one I want b4 applying for the new hotel card I want? If so, how long do I wait before applying for the card I want?

  11. Chase, citi , barclay works. BOA works but may requires a second sm to confirm closure. Barclay even has an option that stated it is for account closure. Amex is the only major CC company i havent try, but seems like other ppl has commented amex works also.

  12. I’ve closed several Citi cards online and never received a retention offer. I always call if i’m trying to get an offer.

  13. When I’m not in a hurry I just send them a snail mail letter template I have saved on my computer. It works every time. Typically takes a week or two before I get the message that they have closed my account.

  14. just took your advise and closed 2 Citi cards (double browser trick) this way. Within 5 minutes i received an email reply that it was closed. Thanks

  15. That’s a great idea, I’m going to try it with my Chase United Explorer that I’ve been meaning to cancel. I only got it for the 25k sign up bonus, and I get all the airline perks from having “real” United status. Plus I have one of the older United Select cards from Chase which offers better bonuses.

  16. I’m not a people person so I always close my accounts using secure messaging. It’s the quickest way to do it. I’ve done this with some Amex cards and some Citi cards. I haven’t had to close a Chase account yet…

  17. Just did it & it was great – emailed last night this morning closed – for my wifes ink bold chase.

    For my own I called & they offered me 10,000 points with $5,000 spend within 3 months – to busy with other minimum spends for AMEX 100K offer last week, so I will just email again.

  18. Question.. I am almost at the 1 year point for Chase Sapphire and would like to cancel. However, I still have the UR points in the account. Will I need to transfer it out before I close it? NOTE: I also have Chase Freedom AND Chase Ink Plus… which also uses the UR system. Thanks!

  19. Thanks so much for this trick. I too hate calling in and arguing (practically) with the agent. I just closed my Chase BA card this way. They replied two days later saying they had closed the account. No retention offers but that’s ok. I believe it said it would show up on my credit report as closed within 40 days.

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