Here's an Easy Way to Keep an Old Credit Card Open

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KEY POINTS

  • An old credit card can help you improve your credit score by increasing the amount of available credit you have and the age of your credit history.
  • Using the credit card to pay a monthly bill is a simple way to keep the account active.


Never forget to use an old credit card with this simple technique.

Keeping older credit cards open could help you improve your credit. But if you don't use the card enough, your card issuer could cancel the account without you realizing it. If you want to avoid this, you should continue to use the card occasionally.

Keeping an old credit card open has its advantages. The two biggest reasons why you may want to do this:

  1. It can help you strengthen the age of your credit history.
  2. It can increase the amount of available credit you have.

The age of your credit history makes up 15% of your FICO® Score. Having older accounts active can help you improve the average age of your credit history, and it shows you have managed your credit for a longer time -- which creditors like to see.

Your credit utilization ratio is how much available credit you use, and it makes up 30% of your FICO® Score. Having more accounts open can increase the amount of available credit you have, so it could help you lower your credit utilization ratio. You'll still need to monitor how much available credit you're using -- less is best.

Keeping older accounts open may improve your credit score

Your credit score can influence the financial opportunities available to you, so it's essential to make decisions that positively impact your credit. Keeping an old account open is one good decision you can make.

My oldest credit card is 16 years old. It has no annual fee, so I see the benefit in keeping the account open. However, I don't use the card for everyday purchases because it doesn't earn rewards like my rewards credit cards. But I figured out an easy way to keep the account open.

Use your old credit card to pay a bill

A straightforward way to make sure you don't forget to use an old credit card is to use it to pay a regular bill. You can put one of your bills on autopay, and your card will be charged every month. Since your account will have regular activity, it will show up on your credit report.

I do this with the oldest credit card mentioned above. I use this card to pay my $7 monthly Hulu bill. I have autopay set up through Hulu, so I don't have to think about using the card.

Since I no longer need to remember to use this credit card manually, the account remains active without me thinking about it. I also set up autopay with my credit card issuer to pay the entire credit card balance every month. These actions help me eliminate forgetfulness.

Should you keep an older credit card open?

Keeping an older credit card account open could be beneficial. If you have an older card with an annual fee, you can ask your card issuer to downgrade the card to a $0 annual fee so it costs you nothing to continue to use it.

By using your card for small purchases, you can keep the account open so your account activity is reported to the credit bureaus and it continues to show up on your credit report.

When used with care, credit cards can be a powerful personal finance tool. If you're in the market for a new credit card, check out our list of best credit cards.

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