Q: I have several credit cards from the same company. One of these cards charges me a $75 yearly fee. I’ve had this card for many years and am concerned that if I close this card, I’ll bring down my credit rating.
I was advised not to close any of my long-held cards. Is this true? Can closing a credit account that I’ve had open for 20 years hurt my credit score?
A: Yes. Credit scores evaluate what types of credit you have, how long you’ve had these accounts open, and what your payment history has been.
If you’ve owned a credit card for 20 years, and have had an excellent credit history with that card, and then you close it, you can damage your credit score significantly — particularly if that’s your longest open piece of credit.
Here’s what I’d do in your situation: Ask the credit card company to demote your credit card to a card that doesn’t have a fee. Ideally, you’ll keep the account, but not pay anything for the card.
Start with the toll-free number to the customer service department and ask for assistance. Do not agree to close the account under any circumstances. If you find you’re not getting anywhere with a customer service person or a supervisor, then ask to be transferred to the customer retention department. This department typically has more leeway to help.