Q: I am an 82-year-old senior citizen. I have at least a dozen credit cards, along with a small balance. I pay the balance each month.
I’d like to cancel some of these rarely used cards (to make life easier for my survivors, and have less to track each month). I’ve heard that doing so would lower my good credit score. Is this true?
A: Here’s the question you should be asking: What do you need your credit for at your age? Will you be buying a house, refinancing your mortgage, purchasing a new car on credit? Having a great credit score is important if you’re going to be doing any of these things. If you’re not, then having great credit is mostly a point of pride (and does preserve your options in the future).
If you have a dozen credit cards, then consider keeping 4 of your oldest cards and canceling the rest. However, don’t cancel any cards on which you have a balance. If you have a balance and cancel the card — even a small balance — it will damage your credit score.
Finally, if you do not use these credit cards, you can still keep them. As long as you have a list of the cards and your children know where to find your information, they should not have a great deal of problem contacting your credit card companies when they have to.
Whether you have 4 cards or 12, the best thing you can do for them is to itemize your account information to make it easier for your children.