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Beware Of Citi Closing Inactive Credit Card Accounts

Saturday, May 26, 2012 - 12:22 PM
If you have a Citi card or any credit card that you rarely use, your credit card account may be closed. The blogger at Five Cent Nickel describes the letter he received from Citi informing him that his Citi ThankYou account had been closed due to the length of time that has passed since it was last used. As he mentioned, he had kept this account opened to avoid dinging his credit score.

Clark Howard recommends using those "back of the wallet" credit cards at least once every 6 months to ensure they stay active which will raise your credit score.
Ken TuminKen Tumin5,471 posts since
Nov 29, 2009
Rep Points: 125,634
1. Saturday, May 26, 2012 - 2:23 PM
The 6-month rule is a good idea for those cards stashed in a sock drawer for emergencies or for making hotel and car reservations.   I look for opportunities to make a small charge on them starting at the 5-months-since-last-use mark.

Some cards make regular activity a condition of keeping the account open or being able to participate in rewards programs.  I don't know how widespread that practice is.  Poster Leef in this DA thread points out that is the case with the Barclay NFL card: "The Barclay NFL card includes in its terms and conditions a statement that "... to participate in the rewards program your account must remain open and in good standing, you must maintain your creditworthiness and you must use your card for at least one (1) purchase transaction every six (6) months (or have some type of account balance every six months).  Failure to meet these requirements may result in account closure and/or forfeiture of all outstanding Points earned." 
pearlbrownpearlbrown1,474 posts since
Nov 2, 2010
Rep Points: 6,407
2. Sunday, May 27, 2012 - 10:44 AM
Citi is not the only one who does this. This happened to me with Chase a few years ago. What really bothered me about it is that Chase notified me three weeks AFTER they had already canceled it! I find that unacceptible, they should have notified me before they canceled. 

And what is really ridiculous about it is that within a month, there were sending me promos in the mail to please apply for and start a Chase credit card! They still are sending them! Gee, if they wanted my business, they never should have notified me after the fact of canceling my card. For doing that, I will NEVER again under any circumstance or offer take a credit card form Chase. BAD business practice -- they lost me forever with that. Chase seems to think they can do whatever they want to me, treat me however poorly they want, and I will still come begging at their door -- nope, they are dead as far as I'm concerned.
me1004me1004373 posts since
Jan 16, 2010
Rep Points: 2,598
3. Sunday, May 27, 2012 - 3:20 PM

You think Chase is bad for notifying you three weeks after they canceled your credit card. I had an inactive BOA credit card which was canceled, and was NEVER informed about it. I didn't find out until I tried to use it (unsuccessfully, of course), and then called the customer service number to find out that it had been canceled about eight months ago! The irony is that the very reason I had attempted to use it was because I was concerned that BOA might cancel it due to inactivity! pearlbrown's post offers good advice, if you don't want accounts being involuntarily closed, then make a small charge at least once every five or six months. I just happened to have the opportunity to save 5% on a purchase at Sears a few days ago by using my Sears Mastercard, which I rarely use. "Killed two birds with one stone": made a purchase with a rarely used account and got rewarded for doing so! BTW, "never say never again" -- I had the same attitude with BOA, and then when my Schwab Invest First Visa became the Bankamericard Visa, not only did I end up with a BOA credit card, but one that I'm actually using (though NOT as frequently as I had used it when it was still the Schwab card).
WilWil242 posts since
Feb 26, 2010
Rep Points: 1,285
4. Sunday, May 27, 2012 - 8:00 PM
Wil, glad the 6-month rule was useful.  It is also a good rule of thumb to avoid having dormant accounts and inactivity fees.  When I open a CD at an institution, I open a savings/checking account at the same time in order to avoid having to incur wire transfer fees at maturity.  I apply the "six months since last use" rule to make sure the account does not become inactive and ACH transfer a minimal ($1-2) amount every six months.  Of course, each institution has its own definition of an inactive account but activity every six months seems to avoid the problem. 

(ETA 1st two sentences)

pearlbrownpearlbrown1,474 posts since
Nov 2, 2010
Rep Points: 6,407