How to Reopen a Closed Credit Card

Ben Allen
closed credit card

Whether you chose to close your credit card, or the credit card company closed it for you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that card is gone forever. In fact, if you closed the credit card on favorable terms, it’s quite likely the credit card company wants you back. 

However, be aware that there are some banks, like Discover, that explicitly say that when you close an account, you will not be able to reopen it.

In many cases, reopening a closed credit card can be better for you than simply opening a new one. You already have an established relationship with the card issuer and you’re more likely to get your old interest rate or really useful benefits.

Reopening a credit card you voluntarily closed is going to be much easier than reopening a card the issuer closed. More than likely, the company was sad to see you go and will be happy to have you back. 

When it comes to reopening a credit card, the process depends on a few things. If you are interested in reopening an old credit card, here’s some advice to help you accomplish this goal.

Table of Contents

1. Determine Why Your Card Was Closed

When the account was closed, the credit card company should have sent you a letter notifying you. If you have that, then you’ll know what you are working with. If you don’t remember seeing that letter, or you simply forgot what it said, then you can always call the credit card company to get the information again. 

Below are some possibilities as to why your card was closed:

  • Inactivity: Some card issuers will close an account that hasn’t been used for a long time. This can vary between card issuers depending on the card issuer’s specific policies regarding inactivity — an inactive period that warrants closure could be anywhere from 1 to 5 years;
  • Account delinquency: If your account is delinquent, your card issuer may move forward and close your account. Your account is considered delinquent when you miss payments. 
    • Note that missing a payment will result in a late payment penalty and poor payment history can hurt your credit score. In some cases, you may also be sent to collections
    • This number can fluctuate, but late payments stay on your credit report for up to seven years, so avoid this at all costs. 
    • If you have only missed one payment, this likely will not be the cause of your account closing, but if you have made a habit of missing payments, this very well could be the reason;
  • Card-issuer changes: Card issuers’ offerings change over time, and the card that you once had may not be a card that they are continuing to offer. If this is the case, your card issuer will likely reach out to you explaining the changes to your account or that your card will be closed at a certain date.

If your credit card was closed by the card issuer and you don’t know why, get a copy of your credit report and check it for errors. An unexpected closed card could mean something suspicious is happening, like credit card fraud

If your credit card issuer is saying you are missing payments and it’s on your report, but you didn’t make the purchases, you need to do something about it. You can dispute false charges and get them removed from your credit report, keeping your score safe. 

Similarly, if your card was canceled, the credit card company might have made a mistake reporting it to the credit bureaus. This can be disputed and removed too. 

2. Gather Necessary Documentation

In order to look up your account and situation, you will need to provide the credit card company with your specific information and documentation — this generally includes:

  • Personal information: Your name, address, Social Security number, phone number, and email;
  • Account information and documentation: Your account number or the card number listed on your physical card, your most recent credit card statement, and your credit card cancellation letter. 

From there, the company will delve further into your situation, and find out whether you can or can’t reopen the account as per your card history with them. Most companies will be happy to have you back, but some might need a bit more information from you.

3. Call the Credit Card Company and Ask About Their Policy

Each company has its own policies when it comes to reopening a credit card. The first step is doing research on whether your chosen company will allow you to reopen your card. You could do some of the research online, but the best solution is to get in touch with their customer support. That way, you can get both the general policy and have them investigate your specific situation for what you’ll need to do. 

If you still have the physical credit card, you can call the customer service number listed on the back of the card. If you do not have a physical credit card, you can generally find this information on the card issuer’s site.

4. Explain Why You Want to Reopen the Card

Your reasons for closing and then wanting to reopen the card can impact whether the company will do it. If the account was closed on accident, or closed temporarily because of credit card fraud, there should be no problem at all. When you close a credit card purposely, it might be a little harder though.

If the credit card company doesn’t like your reasoning, or they don’t find it reason enough to reopen the account, they might just say the only solution is to apply for a new card. 

For example, if you closed the card because you weren’t using the card responsibly before, but now you want to reopen it, it could result in the company denying your request.

5. Be Prepared for a Credit Inquiry

Depending on the company’s policy, and how long it’s been since you’ve closed your credit card, it’s likely the company will want to check your credit score again. Since this is essentially re-approving you to use the card, the inquiry will show up on your credit report as a hard inquiry

If you apply for other credit cards or try to reopen multiple closed accounts (each with their own hard inquiry), it could negatively impact your credit.

If your credit score has dropped a significant amount, the credit card company might deny your application to reopen your credit line, and suggest that you just re-apply for a new card. That, in turn, might mean a higher interest rate, or lower credit availability.

6. Submit a Request to Reopen Your Account

Once you have determined the reason for your card getting closed, you can properly submit a request to reopen your account. In some cases, you may be able to submit this request online, in other cases, you may need to contact the card issuer’s customer service line. 

Just because you submit a request doesn’t mean that your account will automatically reopen. Be prepared to get denied. If this is the case, for whatever reason, you can always look for another type of credit card that you fit the criteria for and apply. 

Does a Closed Account Hurt Your Credit Score?

There are a few different scenarios where your card being closed can hurt your credit score — these are:

  • Unpaid balances: If your account was closed because of delinquent behavior, or your credit card was closed before you had a chance to pay your balance, this could negatively affect your credit — especially if you are sent to collections. It is best to work towards paying off that balance, and getting your charge-off removed from your credit report;
  • High credit utilization: You want to have the proper credit utilization ratio. If you close a credit card, this will either increase your credit utilization if you have other revolving debts, or it will eliminate your credit history if you do not have any additional lines of credit;
  • Poor credit mix: When you open new lines of credit, you are diversifying your credit mix. A diverse credit mix helps improve your credit score. When you cancel a card, you lose that credit diversity, and this can impact your credit score;

Just because your account was closed, doesn’t automatically mean that your credit score will be hurt — but in the above cases, it can. These effects will diminish over time, but they are part of your credit report for a long while.

How Long Does a Closed Account Stay On Your Credit Report?

Even after your credit account is closed, it remains on your credit report. This can last anywhere from seven to 10 years. The length that it stays on your credit depends on what sort of standing you were in when the account closed. 

If you were in good standing, you made your payments on time, and your balance was paid in full, an account without any negative information in its history can last up to 10 years after the close date. If you had a delinquent account, it will generally be removed sooner.

It is possible to re-open closed cards, but your ability to do so is heavily influenced by the circumstances behind closing the account and how long it’s been closed. Keep in mind, though, that if your credit score has improved since you opened the account originally, you might be able to qualify for a better credit card with better terms or rewards. Investigate all options available before deciding on reopening an old account.

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