Avoid the hold music by hopping online.
Simply mentioning canceling a credit card is often enough to make experts wax poetic on the potential pitfalls of closing a credit card account. But there are also a number of excellent reasons to cancel an account -- and ways to do so without hurting your credit.
Whatever your reason for canceling, it's one thing to put it on your to-do list, and another thing to actually do it. After all, who wants to spend half an hour on the phone just to close a card you're not using anymore?
In today's digital age, however, you may not have to suffer bad hold music to cancel your card. Many issuers will actually allow you to close your account online. Of course, it's not usually as simple as clicking a few links. You'll probably still need to interact with a human to get the job done.
Secured chat is your best bet
Most, if not all, major credit card issuers provide some type of secured chat feature that you can use through your online account. You can typically get to the chat feature through a popup or icon in the lower right hand corner of your browser window.
Depending on your issuer, you may also have the ability to start a secured chat by logging into your card's mobile app. This may look like a floating icon -- often in the shape of a speech bubble -- but you may also need to dive into some menu options to find it.
Once you're connected with a customer service representative, simply request a cancellation and provide the name and last four numbers of your card account. You'll probably be asked why you want to cancel. No need to write a book here, just provide a brief reason -- like the annual fee isn't worth it.
In some cases, the representative may try to talk you out of canceling or offer some sort of incentive. If you like the deal, accept it and enjoy another year of card ownership. If not, politely decline. The service rep should then complete your cancellation and confirm your account is closed.
An email from your account could work
Although all of the major issuers have some sort of online chat function, you may not always have that option. In that case, you may be able to cancel your card by sending a secured message -- similar to an email -- from within your online card account.
Finding the secured message feature will vary based on your issuer. Some issuers make it easy to find it right from your account dashboard, while others may bury it in a menu or three. Either way, the secured message form will likely look like a contact form, often with a dropdown menu to specify the nature of your message and text boxes to add a subject and your actual message.
All secured messages you send and receive for your account should be viewed from within your account. Issuers won't send secured messages to your personal email account. In other words, you won't log into Gmail or AOL to communicate with your issuer. Instead, you'll need to use the messaging system available in your online card account.
Your issuer will never request account details of any kind through your personal email -- but fraudsters and scammers will. Be wary of any emails asking for account numbers or login details as it is likely an attempt at credit card fraud.
If all else fails, give 'em a call
At this point in the evolution of technology, there are precious few reasons to sit on the phone with any company, including your credit card company. Major issuers -- like big banks -- make it easy to do just about everything online. However, small banks and credit unions may not be quite as advanced.
If for some reason your credit card issuer won't let you cancel your card online, you'll probably have to make a phone call. On the plus side, it's not an unusual or complicated request, so the process should be fairly smooth once you get a human on the line.
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