When To Cancel Your Credit Cards

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You were approved for a credit card with a BIG sign-up bonus – like the 75,000 AAdvantage card  – and have completed the minimum spending needed to get the bonus miles.

So, when do you cancel the card?  After all, you have received the miles in your account and don’t need the credit card any more!

Before cancelling, read this post to find out if you will lose the miles or points which are already in your account or not.

Do Not Cancel Immediately

I would almost never cancel a card as soon as I complete the minimum spending requirements.

That’s because banks are becoming more sophisticated at detecting repeat patterns of:

  • Applying for a credit card and
  • Cancelling the credit card as soon as the sign up bonus miles have posted in your account

This behavior makes it unprofitable for banks to issue you credit cards.  You may even be put in purgatory blacklisted from applying for credit cards from that particular bank.

There are reports of folks on FlyerTalk who have been unable to get any new credit cards issued by Chase.  Now, that is a scary thought, because Chase has so many mile and point earning credit cards!

Instead of cancelling the card immediately after you get the sign-on bonus, consider using it for a few small purchases every month.

2 Reasons To Cancel A Credit Card:

I only cancel my credit cards when it makes sense for me to cancel them.

So when does it make sense?

1)   When I need to get approved for another credit card with a sign up bonus:

Some banks will only allow you a certain number of credit cards or will set a TOTAL credit line across ALL your cards.

In an earlier post, “Why The Chase “6-Month Rule” Is a Myth!,”  I wrote:

“Most banks set a limit on the TOTAL credit amount which they will extend to you.  This limit is based on the bank’s internal risk-taking (or underwriting) policy, your income, length of credit history, and other variables on your credit report.

You may reach this total limit with 2, 3, or 4 or more credit cards, depending on the credit limit assigned to each credit card.

For example, $20,000 in total credit can result in:

  • 4 Credit Cards with a limit of $5,000 each
  • 3 Credit Cards with a limit of $6666.67 each or
  • 2 Credit Cards with a limit of $10,000 each”

In this situation, it is possible to call up the bank’s lending department and agree to either reduce your credit line on 1 or 2 existing cards or to cancel an existing credit card in order to get approved for a new card.

You lose this leverage, if you cancel your card as soon as you have got the bonus miles or points in your account.

So I prefer to wait until I absolutely have to cancel the card.

Waiting also builds good will with the credit card companies so that they will keep issuing me credit cards!

2)   To avoid paying an annual fee:

The main reason why I cancel my credit cards is because the annual fee for the 2nd year is due.

Remember that the sign on bonus on many miles and point credit cards is waived for the first year, but unless the card is a great everyday credit card, I will cancel it.

Usually, whenever I call to cancel a card (2 to 3 months before the annual fee is due), I am always transferred to the “retention” department where a “specialist” (a person whose job is to get you to NOT cancel the card on that phone call) tries to convince me to keep the card.

Usually he or she will offer me a sweetener such as a $50 statement credit, or 2,500 bonus miles for keeping the card open etc.

I will not cancel the credit card if the retention offer is lucrative enough (i.e the value of the sweetener is more than the annual fee), though this has rarely happened to me.

If the sweetener is not lucrative enough, I will keep the card open until I get the bonus miles or points in my account and then call back later and cancel the card!

Will cancelling a card reduce my credit score?

It might.

That’s because your credit utilization ratio (ratio of amount you owe to the total credit available to you) will increase once you cancel a card.

And, your credit utilization ratio accounts for 30% of your credit score.

Now, if you have many credit cards, and don’t carry much debt on your credit cards, the decrease in your credit score will be slight.

Don’t cancel your older credit cards, because the length of your credit history factors into your credit score!

Bottom Line:

  • Don’t cancel your miles and point credit cards as soon as you get the sign-up bonus.  That is a red flag which may get you blacklisted by banks.
  • Cancel your miles and points card only when you benefit, such as not having to pay the annual fee or getting a new credit card with a sign-up bonus.
  • And if you do cancel, try to get a retention bonus or some other goodies!

When do you cancel your cards?  Tell us about it in the comments!

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Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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151 responses to “When To Cancel Your Credit Cards

  1. do we know what purchases make u seem to be a better cardholder than others? what is taged higher? is it still starbucks? thanks

  2. This is good advice. I’d be interested in hearing from people who have called and received retention bonuses. Should you ask for one directly (“Is there a miles bonus for staying on another year?”) or will the retention specialist offer one automatically? I imagine this varies from card to card, but I’d be interested in hearing (especially) about Amex card experiences.

  3. I was just recently approved for both AA 75K cards and both have really large credit lines. I know I’m going to want to cancel these cards in the next year, but I wonder if having the large credit lines now will hurt me in the long run. I wonder if I will be unable to get additional cards because of the size of the lines and if it will hurt my credit score once I need to close them (which of course will be at approximately the same time).

    Should I ask them to lower the lines now or just wait until the time comes to deal with it. Thanks!

    • @Hello – Banks usually segment their customers based on the amount of spending on their credit cards. So higher value purchases will likely move you to a more lucrative (to the bank) segment. That said, the purpose of making a few small purchases on your card is to demonstrate activity and to try to not get tagged as a “get the bonus and cancel” type of customer!

      @Megan – Well, I don’t ask for the bonus directly, and most of the times I do get a sweetener. But, if the rep doesn’t suggest a bonus, then you should absolutely ask for one! You’re correct that this varies from card to card with, in my experience, Citi giving sweeteners all the time, whereas Chase seems to consider my purchase activity when deciding to give me a bonus.

      Are there any readers with who’ve got sweeteners from Amex?

      @Bill – Bill, ask them to lower your lines only if you’re concerned about having so much spending power and want to lower the risk of overextending yourself.

      @Saloni – I got large lines on my personal Citi cards, but a very low line on the Citi business card.

      @Mark – Some banks like Citibank will take off the fee (or pro rate the fee), but others like Chase, in my experience, do not pro-rate the fees. So if you call-in a month or so into the 2nd year, you may not get all your money back! That’s why I cancel my cards a month or 2 before the fee will be charged and reference the upcoming fee as the reason why I’m cancelling my card.

  4. Saloni Kadakia

    Citi surely is offering large lines on new cards, I got approved for both personal cards with good limits too. Will check my scores next month to see how they were affected.

  5. I read other blogs and from what i understand is to wait till you get charged the annual fee to get the max of point then call to cancel and they will take off the fee, is that correct?

  6. I have a question about card cancellation with regard to churning. We all know the glory days of churning are largely behind us, but I am hearing anecdotal evidence that the big bonus cards (Citi AAdvantage, BA Chase) are still potentially churnable if you wait long enough. I have heard 18 months and 2 years bandied about. Supposedly that’s as far back as their tracking remembers you. The question is: is that 2 years from your last APPLICATION, or from when you CANCELLED? If it is the cancellation date that we’re looking for, then waiting the full year delays what is admittedly a long churn but a churn nonetheless. I totally agree that canceling right after you hit the mark is easy for them to flag, but is there middle ground between 6 months and the 1 year mark?

  7. Recently found this blog. Thank you very much for spending the time to explain things. This article is very helpful.

  8. What are your suggestions regarding the Chase Hyatt Card? I have it and used it heavily for a trip in Europe (no FOREX) in my first month of card membership as well as the 2 free nights. Now, is it worth continuing to spend a bit on it per month until the fee is up just to keep Chase happy? These points won’t do me much really, so it seems like I am sacrificing redeemable points here. Note: I am a long time Chase personal banking customer who keeps a fairly generous amount in my bank accounts there.

    • @thomasdean – You are correct in that there is a middle ground of between 6 to 12 months. I usually cancel my cards around the 10 or 11 month mark. My personal experience with Citi earlier this year was 12 months since the last time I cancelled my personal AAdvantage cards with them. But lot’s of folks on FlyerTalk have had different experience including a blog reader who didn’t get the card when she applied after 12 months.

      @Nguyen – I’m glad you found the article helpful!

      @LovetoTravel – Having a long relationship with Chase could certainly be very helpful. Instead of cancelling the card, why not just spend a few dollars each month on the card? You’re right that you’re sacrificing redeemable points, but you’re also less likely to get blacklisted.

      @Paladin – You have to get both the AAdvantage Amex and Visa at the same time to get both the bonuses. And it does mean that you would be cancelling both around the same time, but you will be making separate calls to Citibank so it shouldn’t be much of an issue.

  9. Great Blog, just happened upon it today, seriously thinking about the 2-3 AAdvantage Citi cards, but what about that impact. So in another post you say you have to get the Personal AMEX and Visa at the same time, does that mean you would logically be negotiating for a sweetener or cancelling the 2 cards at the same time as well? Is that wise?

  10. Beginning of June, my continental one pass card annual fee came due which was $85. I had every intention of cancelling so when I was going to call in the annual fee already posted to my account. No biggie I would just ask to reverse the fee and close the account down. I called, talked to the rep, transferred to retention dept. Talked to a lady and She offered me either $100 credit or 10,000 miles. Now everyone in the travel world would probably take the miles but I recently got both the BA, $95 and hyatt card, $75, both that don’t waive first year fees. I didn’t want to pay another one so I opted for the credit and came out $15 ahead. I don’t feel bad about not taking the miles since beginning of this year I signed up and completed both citi AA cards for 150k, BA for 100k and chase sapphire for 50k. 🙂 and because of this blog I might target the citi AA business card
    I recently stumbled upon this blog and have added this to my daily reads. Keep it up!

    • @Zsnyde – There’s nothing wrong in taking the $100 credit. You should always do what makes sense to YOU, and sometimes conserving cash flow trumps earning miles. Congratulations on all the miles!

  11. My spg amex card first yr waived is coming up very soon in July, I am hoping they are going to give me a retention bonus or waive fee again, if do not offer anything, should I now start transferring my points now before I call to cancel or can I still able to transfer If I were to cancel? thanks

    • @mm – The SPG Amex is one of the very few cards which I wouldn’t cancel! It is very valuable since you can either use SPG points at SPG hotels or transfer them to most airlines at a 1:1 ratio. You also get a 5,000 mile bonus for transfers over 20,000 points, so in effect you are earning 1.25 miles per dollar spent.

      If you do decide to cancel, be aware that you will forfeit all unused points in your account. Note that most transfer are not instant, so plan accordingly!

  12. thanks for your reply. I didn’t know it wouldn’t transfer instantly because AMEX gold MR did before I cancel, so I assumed it would.
    May I ask what other cards do you personally keep on and pay annual fees for

    • @mm – I want to get the British Airways companion pass, so I use the Chase BA card as my primary card. I also have a Priority Club visa which I will pay the annual fee for since I will get 1 free night and a 10% discount on all point redemption through Priority Club which is worth much more than the annual fee.

      I used to have the SPG card, but cancelled it ~2 years ago. I will be reapplying for that card and will likely keep it for longer this time.

      You’re right that Amex MR transfers instantly, but the SPG transfers take longer.

  13. Some cards that normally do not allow churning on the same card, do forget about you , after a few years. Closing a card to avoid the second year fee , may also start the clock ticking on your new ” virgin” status.

  14. The AMEX MR and SPG comparison above is somewhat flawed in the context of a discussion about making sure miles are transferred before cards are closed.

    Membership Rewards is an AMEX program. You need to make sure you transfer all your MR points out before closing the last MR-earning card attached to that.

    SPG points are automatically transferred on a monthly basis from AMEX to the hotel’s program (this usually happens the day the statement closes so your points are there before you even have your paper statement in hand). Those points, once they’ve hit your hotel account, are yours to keep – so you can transfer to an airline etc. (or use with hotel stays!) even after the card has been closed.

    • @Tony – You’re correct! SPG points are yours to keep once they hit your SPG account, so you wouldn’t lose the points when you cancel the SPG card. I replied to mm’s comment a bit too quickly.

      @mm – Please see Tony’s comment.

  15. Thanks again for the excellent blog…

    The Annual fee for my SPG card is coming due at the beginning of July. Unfortunately, I read this blog about a month too late. I evaluated my spend, and have concluded that it probably doesn’t make sense for me to keep this card, despite the value of SPG points. My logic? I travel internationally a LOT, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to end. I can’t justify the 2.7% conversion fee to earn 1 SPG point/$ vs. the zero conversion fee and 2% cashback on my Schwab Visa. When all is said and done, I only had about 10K spend on this card in 12 months. The value of 10K SPG points (less annual fee to earn them) doesn’t add up for me i.e. I’m $265 ahead by using a 2% rebate card with zero fees at the end of the year, making those 10K points pretty pricey.

    So…long story short, when I called to cancel, they offered me a 1K retention bonus…but I don’t think that’ll hit my account until the same month the annual fee posts. Not sure it’s dishonest…but I’d just as soon take the 1K bonus, but my further consideration says still cancel. Can I wait to cancel until I get my last SPG points? i.e. will they reimburse my annual fee if I cancel after it is assessed?

    • @ANC RED-EYE – The foreign currency fee cancels out the value of earning SPG points. I don’t think there is anything wrong in taking the 1,000 points and cancelling later. It’s not as if you agreed to keep the card open for the entire year! I know that Citibank pro-rates the annual fee if you cancel in the middle of the year, but am not sure about American Express. You may want to call them again and ask!

  16. Hi Daraius,

    I applied for the Chase 50K Sapphire Preferred Card but I wasn’t approved. They told me I had recently applied for too many cards. I have some cards that I barely use right now like Amex Blue Sky (6 or so months), Discover Student Cards (same time) and BofA Card (3.5 years). Will closing these cards help me whatsoever?

    • @Vishal – Closing your other cards (non-Chase) will likely have no impact on your Chase application. You should also NOT close your oldest card since it helps determine the length of your credit history. I would try calling the reconsideration line again. You may have too many inquiries on your credit report, which may be why you were declined.

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  18. Although I loooove my Amex SPG card, I am considering canceling it soon, to reset the clock, for when I can apply for it again, and earn a new signup bonus.

    My thinking, is that I need to put $30K on my Chase BA Visa to get the companion pass, and that will take up most of my spend for the next 12 months.

    Even if I wasn’t going for the companion pass, it still works out. I value my BA points at about $0.019, and my SPG points at about $0.025. So, with the 1.25 points earned per dollar spent on the BA card, I’m getting almost the same return for my spending. I feel comfortable putting my spending on the BA card, until a nice signup bonus comes along for the SPG card again.

    I will probably wait 12 months from cancel, before I look to apply for SPG again. Does that sound like enough time, or should I wait longer?

    • @Chris – I think that is a great idea! I’m also concentrating all my spending on the BA card, since that will give me the most value since 1 companion pass to Europe will save me 150,000 BA miles, which for $30K in spend, is about 5 miles for every $1 spend.

      I believe that the talk is that AMEX will give you another bonus if it has been more than 2 years since your last AMEX card. It has been more than 2 years since my last AMEX SPG card, so I’m waiting to see if there will be an offer with a higher sign-on bonus.

  19. I feel better knowing you agree. Sounds like we are both concentrating our spending on the BA card now.

    I plan to use the companion pass to go to Greece. So, it will save me 195,000 BA miles. For $30K in spend, that is about 6.5 miles for every $1 spend!! Plus the 1.25 miles per $1 base earnings, for a total of 7.75 miles per $1 spend.

    At $0.019 personal utility value per BA mile (because I might actually pay $4K for a first class ticket), I figure I am getting back almost 15 cents on the dollar in personal economic value, for my next $30K in spending on the BA card!

    If I valued the BA miles at full retail price for the first class ticket to Greece (which I don’t, because I wouldn’t pay $11K for a first class ticket), then each BA mile would be worth about $0.052. Multiply that by the 7.75 miles saved & earned per dollar spent on the BA card, and I have a maximum theoretical value of over 40 cents back, for each 1 dollar spent!!!

  20. I have Amex Hilton since 09. I am wondering if i can apply another Amex hilton card (the $65k bonus one). Do I have to close my current Amex Hilton first and wait 2 years?

    • @baobaobowlby – I don’t have any personal experience with the Amex Hilton, but I believe that you have to wait for 2 years AFTER closing your AMEX account to be eligible for the bonus the 2nd time.

  21. I don’t think you would forfeit your SPG points in you cancel your account. They are in your SPG account where you also earn points for hotel stays.

  22. Israel husarsky

    I called to cancel my visa and express for both me and my wife – 4 cards total and they offerd me $85 after 5 purchases to keep the account.

    Which I did and then cancelled similar to you 9-10 months in.

    I will also cancel for a third reason. I only want a few cards owhich I primarily use out there. Too many and it is hard to keep track (maybe they start charging to have the cc and identity theft, etc.)

    In terms of the credit hit when I looked a Fico website there is a portion 15% in their pie which is new credit (the % of your credit which is due to new cards), They are not clear but it sounds like too high a % and it hurts you.
    So, I am thinking that it might actually help the score to close these new cards anyway.

  23. Israel husarsky

    from the my fico site – it is actually 10%

    New Credit
    Number of recently opened accounts, and proportion of accounts that are recently opened, by type of account
    Number of recent credit inquiries
    Time since recent account opening(s), by type of account
    Time since credit inquiry(s)
    Re-establishment of positive credit history following past payment problems

    • @Israel husarsky – You’re right that the number of recently opened accounts dings your score by a bit (generally 3 to 8 points). However, that doesn’t go away when you cancel the card. But when you sign up for cards, your available credit also increases which may help balance out the small ding for opening a card.

      Closing your cards won’t help your score (it may reduce it since the average age of your accounts decreases), but may make it easier to manage and to get more cards in future.

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  25. @Bill… Yikes, a better option is to either keep one of the cards (Card#1) and move as much of the credit limit to that card from Card#2 as Citi will let you, then call back the next day and kill Card #2. Even better, if you already have a no-fee Citi card (a generic Visa, for example) have the limits from Card#1 AND Card#2 moved to that no-fee card, and kill both of the AA cards a few days later.


    • @Dan k – Your highest credit card balance is reported by AMEX to the credit bureaus as your credit limit. So closing an AMEX card will reduce your available credit by whatever your highest balance on that particular AMEX card was.

  27. Thanks for your article, I got 50$…got my tank filled up…and then cancelled my card 🙂

  28. Hi.. I wonder if it is a good idea to switch my cards with annual fee to those without annual fee? in that way, i would not need to cancel the cards and then hurt my credit score and the bank’s feeling. 🙂 Meanwhile I also wonder if bank would not want to issue new card to me if i have already had too many cards with them and have a high total credit line?


    • @Allen – That is a good solution, but you can’t get the sign up bonus on a card if you switch from an annual fee card to a non-annual fee card. And as you point out, at some point banks will not issue new cards in which case you call the reconsideration line and offer to trade old cards for new ones!

  29. Hi..

    i would have received the signup bonus when i switch (like before the annual fee is due). so i anyway have to get rid of the card with annual fee, but i am thinking maybe it betters off to switch to a non-annual-fee card instead of canceling.

    are you suggesting that a few month later when i apply for a new card, i can call the reconsideration line and offer to trade old cards for new ones? 🙂 but i heard i would not receive the signup bonus if i keep the the card number since the bank (like Amex) would think it is not a new card application and i am just doing another switch.. what do you think?


    • @Allen – For example, if you switch the Chase Sapphire Preferred to the Chase Freedom (which offers a $300 bonus, but no annual fee) you won’t get the sign up bonus on the Freedom card when you switch from the Sapphire to the Freedom. But if you cancelled the Sapphire and applied for the Freedom card you’d get the bonus on the Freedom card. With Chase it is quite easy to call their reconsideration line and trade new cards for old. But if you keep the old number you most likely will not get the new bonus again.

  30. i guess i did not make it clear.. i do not want to “trade”. i just want to switch them to cards without fee. But next time i apply for a new card (not trade), would bank decline me since i have already had too many (likely dormant) cards with them and have a high total credit line? i guess the high total credit line should not be an issue since i can reallocate credit to the new card when calling the reconsideration line.

    • @Allen – I think you should be okay to switch the cards and not trade them. I don’t know how the banks will evaluate your application, but as you point out, you can always reallocate credit when you call the reconsideration line.

  31. hi, my situation is this…i applied for SWA RR card 8 days ago (10,000 points and $100CR). the card arrived today with no details of special offer. i went online to find details and noticed new offer of 25,000 points, which is a better deal. what are my options to switch from the initial offer to this better offer? currently have no points with SWA so the 25,000 would translate to a free flight.

    • @Eric – There is an even better offer for the SWA card for 50K points in the Hot Deals tab. Chase usually matches higher sign-up bonuses within 3 months so if you send them a secure message or call them up they should match you to the best available offer. Good luck!

  32. Greetings,

    I have an Amex Gold card and a Delta Amex Gold card. The regular renews soon at a $150+ annual fee. I originally got it for early access to concert tickets (but not premium vip packages). I can get early access with my DAL card (so it seems) and with a much lower fee. Try and get a retention offer? Any reason to keep both?

    PS: I have 47k MR points and I’m hoping to get a bonus offer to DAL or AA soon (crossing my fingers).

    Many thanks.

  33. Hi, I have a CitiAAdvantage Mastercard, and I’m currently three days away from my “first annual fee,” and I been thinking of cancelling the card to apply for another Citi Visa card, because I have been using this card for almost 12 months now. I think it is probably too late to cancel the card before I hit the first annual fee charge. I think I plan to cancel the card after when they charge me with the annual fee, even though I have a 8700 credit line on this card. Do you think it would be a good idea to take such action? And will they approve me a new Visa card? And what would you do when they keep convincing you to stay?
    Thanks. I love your blogs.

    • @Nam – You can call and threaten to cancel and they will offer you an incentive to stay with them. You can then cancel the card later on after you’ve got the bonus. If you cancel your Visa card, you may not get another Citi American Airlines card unless it is 18+ months since your last application.

  34. I only have the Mastercard. I meant to say that I want to cancel the Mastercard so I can apply for the Visa, since my last application for the Mastercard was almost 12 months ago. So It has to be 18 months not 12?

  35. So I currently have a Delta Gold AMEX and an SPG Amex. I have had the Delta card since 2006, but the annual fee is coming due again, and I simply don’t fly Delta much anymore so I don’t see the value. Both of my AMEX cards list Member since ’01 on them (from an old AMEX Blue card that has since been cancelled). The Delta AMEX is currently the oldest card that I have open — would it negatively affect me to close the Delta card, even though I have another AMEX card open?

  36. Thanks again for the informative advice. I’m approaching the 1 year anniversary on my Citi AA cards. I called Citi today to cancel the AMEX, and was transferred to the retention department to speak with a specialist as you describe. I actually just was transferred their directly from the automated system when I stated the reason for my call was to cancel. I advised the agent that I had assessed the cards I have and that I could not justify paying the annual fee on this card. She offered me either an $85 statement credit after 5 purchases within 3 months, or 3000 bonus miles after $500 in purchases over 3 months. I opted for the statement credit, as it is worth more than the 3000 miles to me.

  37. I have an interesting dilemma. I applied for a Continental card about a year ago, which had the bonus of 50,000 miles after the first purchase. I received the card, then sort of forgot about it until recently. Finally, a month ago, I called to activate and see if the offer was still valid. It was, so I bought a $1 song to get the bonus.

    I just received my latest statement. It includes the $1 charge and the $85 annual fee. Payment due in early May. I don’t really want to pay the annual fee, but maybe I should/have to in order to keep the miles? Of course, everything is over on United now and I just checked and saw the miles have posted. What do you think I should do in this case?

  38. In redeeming miles, it seems all the reward flights on united are ridiculous “go arounds” with 2 stops or more on what would be a normally 4 hour flight. Is there a trick to getting better flights with points?

    • @Mary Gradowitz – There’s a lot of flexibility required when booking award flights at the low level, and taking extra stops is one of them. However, you can also fly on US Air using United miles, so perhaps there is an easier routing when you include US Air?

  39. I received the US Air Mastercard in December and just called to cancel. When I asked about retention offers, first they said I qualified for a balance transfer special, I said no thanks, anything else? He offered something else uninteresting and listed the benefits to me of keeping the card. I said, nah, no thanks, anything else? Finally he said I can get 2,500 miles if I spend $500 in 90 days. So now I know, don’t assume the first offer is the only offer available. I’ll probably spend that by the end of the month and then call again.

  40. I got a Citi Thankyou card and have eared the sign on bonus rewards. When I call to cancel and if they offer retention bonus. Will I be “blacklisted” if I took the retention bonus but still cancel before my 1st year is out?

  41. I have a aa advantage citi card I wanted to know if I lower the card to a dif aa advantage that has no fee can I apply again a few months later for a aa advantage card with a bouns or do I have to cancel the card in order for me to get the bonus again?

    • @James – I’ve cancelled after the retention bonus posted, but your experience could be different.

      @Mordy – I believe that you have to wait at least 18+ months since you were last approved for the Citi AA cards to get them again. I’m not sure what happens if you downgrade to a no fee version.

  42. i called about my prg amex, because i was really torn on whether it was worth it to pay the fee. i asked straight out if there was any sort of retention bonus i could get. the rep transferred me to a different department, where i was told that because i used the card a lot (i spent $7000 on it in the year), i could have either a $50 credit and then another $50 if i spent $500 in sixty days OR 7500 points and then another 5000 if i spent $500 in sixty days. i obviously took the points.

    i love amex 🙂

  43. My husband’s Chase British Airways Visa will hit us with the annual fee in June. He called today to cancel or downgrade per your instructions. However, he was told he would lose his 50,000 Avios if he canceled the card. All she let him do was transfer the line of credit to another card, which doesn’t help us at all. I have a feeling we were lied to. Can we cancel this card and keep the miles? What can we use as our defense if this happens again? Thanks much.

  44. It’s more than 18 months since I opened up Citi AA with 75k sign-up bonus and I still keep it because Citi offered the 2nd year annual fee waive. Recently, I’ve got to be aware of that I can churn this card with, at least, 18 months wait. What should I do to do churning? Do I need to cancel it off immediately? I’m not so sure of how it works. Your advise would mean a lot to me. Thanks a lot

    • @Owely – Folks have been able to get the card 18+ months (some require more than 18 months) since their last successful application. You could either close the card or keep it open before you next apply. I usually close my card before applying again, but you may want to keep it if you like the perks etc. Good luck!

  45. Joe Rodriguez

    Haven’t you factored in Emily’s recent success with a second US Air card without canceling the first active one? The reason I bring it up is because you’ve always declined to the option of downgrading a card. Number one, it hurts your chances for next sign up bonus and two, you are forfeiting the sign up bonus of the card your being transferred to. However, I would also add to these factors that number one, downgrading is a great way to keep your credit history and also retain the credit limit a bank has already given you and second, you’re never going to apply to any of these downgraded no annual fee cards just for the sign up bonus! (they’re horrible). Just a thought.

  46. Joe Rodriguez

    I would apply the same logic about downgrading or not canceling cards in order to reapply for the Citi AA two browser trick. In the link below, you’ll see evidence of a case where it worked successfully last year:

    I guess the bottom-line question is, do we HAVE to cancel the original cards? Last year, you said you didn’t have enough experience with that. Has Emily’s success with US Air changed anything for you?:

    • @Joe Rodriguez – I don’t downgrade cards because I’d rather get the sign-up bonus on the card again. And I only lose 1 year of potential credit history by cancelling a premium card and reapplying for the lower version card (with a small bonus) and keeping that card for a long time.

      Emily got approved for another US air card without cancelling, so I wanted to see if the same would work for me. It did not. So I’ll cancel my existing US Air card and apply for another one soon.

      You don’t have to cancel the AA cards to get approved again, but if you have to much outstanding credit on your existing cards, it may require a call to the reconsideration line to move credit around. Similarly, for Bank of America, I’ve managed to get the new card without cancelling the old card. But you always run into the risk of being denied and having them realize that you already have a previous version of the card.

      Feel free to email me if you have more questions!

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  48. In May I called to cancel my Chase United card (opened 1 year ago) and was offered $100 or 10,000 miles to keep it. Last night I called to cancel my Citi AA Amex card (opened 4 years ago) and was offered 5x miles on my next $4,000 of spend to keep it. However, I have used both cards a decent amount and I assume the 4 year track record with the AA card was factored in.

  49. Hello, how long do we have to wait before applying a new AA or chase Mileage card after cancellation? Thanks a lot.

  50. Anniversary dates on my Citi AA cards was just about up, so I decided it was time to cancel. One idea/hope I’d had was to convert one of them to the citi Forward card, since I had recently gotten the Thank You Premier card, this card would have been a nice way to earn 5 TY points per $ at restaurants. Unfortunately, the Forward was not an option of a program I could convert to. I ended up cancelling one of the cards and converting the other to the Citi Dividend card (fee free, 5% cashback quarterly category card). Any advice as to whether making this conversion for one of the cards or cancelling would be a better choice? I’m not extremely enthused about the Dividend card’s program as I would only ever use it for the 5% categories, and one can only cash out rebates in $50 increments. Debating if adding another fee free occasional use card to my wallet is better for my credit score than just cancelling both of these cards at the 1 year mark.

  51. Tammy Horvath

    I have an Air Tran Visa. I’ve had it since 2006. I kind of want to cancel it because of the merger with southwest but I know it will probably hit my credit hard. It has an 18,000 limit and they just charged me the annual fee of $39 on June 28. I’m thinking if I cancel it they will refund the annual fee. I have the southwest cards that I use for southwest. Right now this card is worthless for using on southwest (you get ripped off) since the southwest card has better travel value than the conversion rate. How many points do you think it will bring my credit score down (3 or so)? I have excellent credit. Or, would you wait and see if it ends up eventually having the same value as the southwest card? Any thoughts are appreciated! I hope you and Emily had a great trip.

  52. I have a Chase Freedoom visa with $22,500 credit line, Business Ink Bold $5000. I will close Business Ink Bold soon. Before I close Ink, can I combine Ink Bold to Freedoom card? I have this question because Ink is a business card, and Freedoom is a personal card. Thank you so much ^_^

  53. FYI; Called to cancel Citi Visa and amex due for annual fee. Amex told me to wait till billed as couldn’t offer anything at this time. Visa offered $85 statement credit with additional 750 miles after spending $750 per cycle for 16 cycles. Accepted it as card has decent credit line and hardly use the card. Will wait till next month to cancel amex as has lower line and don’t use either. Then 6 more months to churn correct?
    The direct line for the retention department is: 1-800-444-2568 avoiding CSR.

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  55. i want to cancel my MILES&MORE card, will I loose the miles already accrued in my account?– are there any no fee cards for that?

  56. So I cancelled a Chase card today, after getting hit with the $95 annual fee. And you know something? Since they require us to phone up to do this, and sit through the interminable scripts that their agents read out to us, we should be allowed to read our own script right back at them. “No, I wish to cancel my card, thank you.” “No, I wish to cancel my card, thank you.” “No, I wish to cancel my card, thank you.” “No, I wish to cancel my card, thank you.” And so on. I wouldn’t dare, but it’s sure tempting.

  57. Hi Darius!! My first post, and let me start by saying what a great resource you have compiled! I spent almost 6 hours reading through your blog untill I got so dizzy I cant look at the laptop screen anymore!!

    After all that reading, I have a question for you, but let me tell u what I have:
    1) I had a Chase United Explorer (my main CC) for about 10 months now, spent a lot (got the 10,000 bonus for spending 25,000$), I’m a silver, had a couple bump-ups to first class, and always in the first batch to get on the plane..

    2) Just got approved a month ago for USAirways Platinum with 40,000 bonus, they have lucrative/appealing annual bonuses including the “Annual companion certificate good for round-trip travel for up to 2 companions at $99 each”, and the “redemption discount: 5,000 less than non-card members when redeeming miles for award round-trip tickets”.

    3) I had the Discover “Miles” card (had no bonus) for 4 months, basically using it at grocery store “Marc’s” which does not take any other cards, and I did not want to waste my cash without getting at least some points/miles.

    I’m new to “churning” but I love to start!

    Question is: Should I close my United card to avoid the fee? Should I close the USairways (after few months of course) even though the companion tickets might make up for the annual fee, and saving 5000 points when redeeming for round trips?

    • @Squallo – Thanks for reading! If the United card is your oldest card, I wouldn’t cancel it because it helps your credit score by proving “aging.” If it is your oldest card and you don’t want to pay the fee, you could just downgrade it to a fee-free version. If you want more United miles, you can always get the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold/Plus and convert to United. I usually apply for Chase cards and call the reconsideration line to get approved. If they are reluctant to approve me, I cancel a card or move credit from another Chase card. If the US Air Companion tickets are useful for you, keep the card open. As always, do what makes sense for you! It also helps to set a goal before applying for credit cards.

  58. I need some advice here. I let something slip up on me. I got billed my annual fee today for my Ink Bold. I thought i had another month but I guess not. This is the first time I have been billed the annual fee (just got the card last year). I had hoped to call and get the fee waived this year, threaten to close. I already have the sapphire, united explorer and freedom. I am also an additional card holder on my husbands ink so I have opportunity for 5x earning on his card. I don’t want to give up points I earned this last month, it was alot. What are my options when I call? Thanks!

    • @Kathy – Chase isn’t very good with the statement credits for the fee, but you could wait until the points post and then transfer out the points and close the card. If you cancel now, you lose points which haven’t posted as yet, but that could be worth the $95 annual fee.

  59. thanks! I will definitely wait until end of the month when I transfer the points over. If I decide to cancel then, will they refund the fee or am I pretty much stuck with it since I didn’t cancel it before it posted. In that case, I will keep it and use it. Not a huge deal but something I wish I would have caught. I have earned a bunch of points on this card.

  60. Darius would you recommend downgrading to a no – fee card rather to keep the credit? Or you prefer to just cancel the card and lose the credit? Some other writers suggest downgrading to the n0-fee to maintain the credit. Then when you need your next card you can cancel the no-fee card and transfer the credit. Does that work with most banks? Any experience here?

  61. Need some advice please. Wifes CSP annual fee of $95 comes “billed 2/1”. I believe the 7% dividend includes the 50K sign on. Calculated dividend is around 5K points. I thought this was based on calendar year. Any idea when div posts? Should I wait for posting and then cancel card? We really don’t use this card as I have CSP and InK already in my name. Basic Chase Sapphire only gives 10k sign on. Should she apply for that before canceling and attempt to move credit line over? Thanks

    • @Pearl – I usually prefer to cancel a card so that I reapply and get the bonus again because you don’t get the bonus for downgrading a card.

      @AJB – It usually posts in the January or February statement. She could cancel the Visa version and apply for the MasterCard version or perhaps a new Visa version after a few months.

  62. I just called to cancel my Citi AAdvantage card 2 months before my annual fee was up and was offered the following retention bonus: $75 statement credit + 1,000 bonus miles for the next 16 billing cycles during statements that I spend at least $1,000. So, potentially 32,000 miles. I’ll take advantage of that until the Vanilla cards are still available. After that I don’t know.

  63. when you mention total credit as in:
    “Most banks set a limit on the TOTAL credit amount which they will extend to you.”
    Do you mean the amount of credit across all my cards from many sources (as on my credit report)

    or just the amount of credit that the Chase is granting me? (if they denied me)

    Since some of my new cards have annual fees, I should call them a month before the fee date. When they ask why, I could mention the fee and see if they will offer to waive the fee or offer a greater incentive to stay

  64. Just closed my United Mileage Plus Explorer account and the agent informed me that *all miles* I have earned via this card at any time will expire 18 months from today. Apparently Chase can claw back the miles from your United Miles account. Is this a new policy? I don’t remember reading about it anywhere.

  65. Well, that’s what I would have thought. This agent insisted that any miles earned via the card would expire notwithstanding other mileage account activity. Hence my remark about Chase ‘clawing back’ miles over a year later. What you’re saying (that miles would be subject to the airline’s standard expiration policies) makes sense and is what I’m used to. I guess this agent has his facts wrong? It was also weird that I was offered no incentive to stay with the card and I’ve charged over $40K on it this past year.

  66. Daraius: you recommend spending “a few” dollars regularly on all of our cards to avoid being blacklisted as a churner. I don’t think you actually mean a “few” ie $5 😀 Most of my spend is tied up each churn in meeting minimum spend on the new cards. But I also have cards like the Priority card that I don’t want to use for spend, but will keep as long as they keep giving me that “free night everywhere” certificate. And other cards I am just waiting until it’s time to cancel when the annual fee comes due, and then reapply. What constitutes enough spend for Chase and Citi to not consider these neglected cards? And is it better to spend a smaller amount each month, or a larger amount every 2nd or 3rd month? I know you don’t have a crystal ball for the answer. But I’d appreciate a ballpark estimate, since I don’t have a clue, and my pile of ccs has become amazingly high.

    • @Killington – It was either a scare tactic to get you to keep the card or a misinformed agent.

      @Robert Hanson – I really don’t know the precise figure. I put recurring Netflix, toll, and other small, but recurring charges on the cards which I plan on keeping. That way, I don’t have to change credit card numbers for the netflix, toll, etc. every time I get a new card. But is that level of spending enough? I don’t know, but so far I’ve been able to keep my Priority Club and Hyatt card with Chase.

  67. I applied for Citi AMEX 50K bonus $3K spending and got approved. (I applied for Visa at the same time but got denied in letter). I used the card for a week and bam! they locked my account as early fraud warning. I had to call customer service and they were kind of rude. They told me to fax in drivers license, ssn card, utility bills as proof of identity. Then they would “consider” whether or not to let me have the card. I don’t like how I was treated and want to close the account on my own term. Have anyone experienced this before? Would this hurt my credit score? Thank You.

  68. “They told me to fax in drivers license, ssn card, utility bills as proof of identity.” That’d be especially annoying to me since I haven’t owned a fax machine since 20 years ago. I wonder if they’d accept a scan by email? I wonder if that’s safe?

    Tara, I’d just cancel. Unless lots of people cancel the bank has no incentive to provide better service. The ding on your credit rating will be trivial imho.

  69. is there a rule on how many cards you should cancel in a day or month? I need to cancel a whole bunch of them. Should I spread it out?

  70. I applied for my Chase United Explorer card in Oct 2011, and when I called to cancel in September 2012 to avoid the $95 annual fee, the retention department (or the “card specialists” as they call themselves) gave me a $100 statement credit for not cancelling. So I made $5! Hey…free Taco Bell lunch anyone? =)

    I still have the card in my wallet, but don’t use it anymore b/c I got the Chase Sapphire Preferred (just met the spending requirement last month!).

    One question: In addition to the above 2 Chase cards, I also have the Chase Freedom. In a few months, I am looking to add the Ink Bold and maybe another Chase card…should I cancel my United one now (don’t need the benefits), or wait until I absolutely have to as you suggest above? Basically you’re saying that there’s no fear of getting denied b/c I can always call and ask to shift my total credit limit from one card to the new one?

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  72. I got the AE Delta skymiles card with the 30,000 bonus miles if you spent $500 in first 3 months. I missed the 3 month spending limit deadline by 17 days. I have continued to use the card and put a couple thousand dollars on it. It is up for renewal in a couple of months. Is there anything I can do to get those points I stupidly missed out on? thank you

  73. I am planning to close my chase priority rewards credit card. I have around 65K chase Priority club points. If I cancel my credit card will it affect my points? Please reply.
    Thanks as always.

  74. MM–My Ink Bold AF is coming due next month. I actually want to apply for the Ink Classic because I want the office supply 5x. I don’t spend anywhere near $25000 a year and my BB loads are paltry compared to most. In your experience how long after the fee hits do you have to cancel a card? I want to get my last month of points in before I switcheroo.

  75. What valid reasons do you generally give for cancelling credit card to avoid annual fee of $95?

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  77. Does it hurt your credit score via the average age of credit history?

    I know when you open a new card, your average age does down, so would it be beneficial to leave the card open as long as there is no annual fee?



  78. I am really new to all of this and reading as much as possible. I am in my early 40’s and have opened many different cards over the years with no fees. Just now starting to take advantage of sign up/fee based bonus cards. Is there ever too many cards to have? I always pay off balances each month, and most I just quit using over time. I guess my question is can you have too many cards on your credit report? Should you close a card just because? I’m thinking the only reason I would want to close one is to avoid the annual fee, but some “experts” say you shouldn’t have too many cards. From reading your post, I know you have opened quite a few this year (any probably in the past also), do you feel the need to close some or do you have a lot on your report? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

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  80. I called to cancel my Citi AA Business and the rep offered me a statement credit of $95. which I declined she then offered 10,000 AA miles for $3000 spend in 3 mths and then finally she offered the same for $5000 spend in 6 months. I eventually turned it down but may try the same on the Citi Visa that I plan to keep open . Hopefully I will get a good deal on this one since I have spent close to if not more than 40,000$ just this year on that one. And as per your advice on another post I really need to keep it open so that I can get 10% back on miles that I have redeemed this past year.

  81. I currently have 5 Chase cards and want to apply for another(I want the Sapphire card). I’m worried I might get denied since I received all 5 in the past year. I was thinking of canceling one of my cards and then applying for a different card. The card I was going to cancel is 8 months old. But your advice seems to suggest that I should apply for a 6th card without canceling, and if I get denied that I should ask them to move part of a credit line from another card to the card that I want. Do you think I have a better chance of getting approved using this method?

  82. Just called to cancel my Chase Southwest personal card. Was never transfered to anybody, the first person who answered my phone call canceled the card right away.

  83. How long after you cancel a chase card such as United or Hyatt do you have to wait to reopen and get an incentive package? The Delta Skymiles card is one year after having been closed.

  84. I just called chase to cancel my Ink Cards in anticipation of the upcoming annual fees. I was notified that my existing miles will be forfeited if I cancel. Please Advise.



  85. Hi Daraius,

    Question for you. Right now, I have:
    1.) A chase debit card that is 5.5 years old
    2.) TJ Max credit card with $1800 limit, 3 months old
    3.) Chase Sapphire Preferred with $5000 limit, 2 months old
    4.) Chase Freedom with $5000 limit, 2 weeks old

    I want to cancel my TJ Max credit card (I signed up before I knew anything about credit cards and credit scores), but do you think it will hurt my credit score because it’s the second oldest card I have; or will it not have much of an impact since it’s hardly older than my most recent chase cards?

    Thanks a lot for your help.

  86. MM, Some advice so I decided upon getting two Southwest cards to meet minimum spend for companion pass. How would you strategize in cancellation of these cards. Would you cancel one card right before the first year is up or keep two cards for the full two years or the entire duration of the Companion pass and then cancel?? Thank you your help is much appreciated!

    • @Win – It depends on your spending and goals. If you won’t be using the cards, then there’s no need to keep the card open. But it could be worth keeping the card for the no foreign transaction fee (on the Premier version) etc.

  87. I have an issue with Citi Advantage card, applied for the card since i received an offer of 50k miles when i finish spending 3k in 90 days. The first statement start date was October 27 2013. I took a little more than 90 days to achieve the goal, the customer service rep informed me about a 14 day grace period in for customers to achieve their target, this was repeated by a supervisor as well. I hit the mark with the grace period. The problem is the customer service guy opens a case to another internal department which does the calculation and they come back with the negative response (that i have not satisfied the conditions), i have double checked my calculation and i have made the mark, i was even planning to send the data and the calculations with copies of statements which they dont accept. Here is a strange case where i am stuck between the customer service and the internal department which does the calculation. Have you heard about the grace period for the Citi Advantage card?

  88. Do you have a list of bank retention phone numbers (not reconsideration)?

  89. Christina Garcia

    I have held the Chase United card for 2.5 years before closing. I’ve closed the card about three months ago because I wanted to re apply for another opening bonus. The account still shows up online with my other accounts but shows as closed. Also showing up online as closed is my old Chase Sapphire (not preferred card) that I closed two years ago! How long should I wait before attempting to re apply for the United? It’s been a few months over 24 months since I’ve gotten the opening bonus for United. I’m curious about this because I recently applied for the Chase Sapphire Preferred and they did not want to give it to me but instead re open the regular Chase Preferred saying that is their general procedure. I argued that the original card was actually another product and that they took the liberty of switching me to that Chase Sapphire (regular) and offered no bonus for doing so. They finally agreed to let me open the Chase Sapphire. I don’t mind waiting to open United but am unsure how long now since experiencing a bit of issue with the Sapphire Preferred. Advise? Thank you!!

  90. I want to move my $5K credit line from Amazon.com Visa Signature to Southwest Visa Signature to get the 50k offer with $100 statement credit Southwest sent me. Do you think Chase will do this if I SM them? Will they do a hard pull? My credit score is 796. I don’t want any more credit, which is why I just want to do a move. Thanks.

    P.S. – Chase changed my Amazon.com to Visa Signature without any input from me; just issued it.

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  92. can you do a post on citi executive card, now that all the people who signed up for the 100,000 miles offer last year will be looking to cancel to avoid the $450 annual fee?

  93. Any options as I applied for and was just approved Delta Gold skymiles but was denied sign on bonus as I had another card a few years ago. Can I call and get this switched to some other product so I can at least get some reward? Your advice appreciated.

  94. I can’t find an answer to this question anywhere. For the purpose of churning, is the amount of time that must pass between receiving a bonus based on the previous card’s APPROVAL date or its CLOSING date? In other words, say I was approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred in 1/15, get the bonus in 3/15, and then close the card in 7/15. Assuming there is a 2-year wait period between churns, do I need to wait until 1/17 (based on the last card’s approval date) or 7/17 (based on it’s closing date)?

  95. I can’t find an answer to this question anywhere. For the purpose of churning, is the amount of time that must pass between receiving a bonus based on the previous card’s APPROVAL date or its CLOSING date? In other words, say I was approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred in 1/15, get the bonus in 3/15, and then close the card in 7/15. Assuming there is a 2-year wait period between churns, do I need to wait until 1/17 (based on the last card’s approval date) or 7/17 (based on it’s closing date) before being eligible to receive the bonus again?

  96. Echoing Evan’s question, the Citi AA MC 50K offer states “bonus miles are not available if you have had a Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® opened or closed in the past 18 months.” This would imply that the count-down of 18 months begins from the moment you close the card, which would suggest closing it sooner rather than waiting until the annual fee hits.
    Daraius, any thoughts?

  97. I just called to cancel my Chase Business Ink card. I have had the card for 3 years, never paid interest on the card, spent a large amount at first and then intermittent amounts through the years. I was never referred to a “retention department” or offered anything. The woman just said she would close it. When I asked if she would move my credit line over to another of my personal Chase cards she said she couldn’t because they were different types of cards even though when I opened the Business card, I moved credit from personal to business to do so. I am afraid of my personal credit getting dinged now if that credit amount is not moved over to my personal. The yearly fee of $95 comes out on February 25th. Should I just call closer to the time and ask another rep to close it and hope they offer to wave the yearly fee?

  98. Thanks for all your good posts! I have a question on closing cards. I have a number of duplicate cards earning for the same airline and want to close most of them out because they all have annual fees. Three of them are with Citi. Do you recommend applying for another Citi card before I close them or after?

  99. I am a Newby at miles and applied for the Chase Sapphire Preferred because the annual fee of the Chase Sapphire Reserve scared me. In any case I got approved but did not reach the required spending limit in order to receive the 50,000 bonus points. Now my annual fee is about to come due and I’m trying to decide if I should cancel or downgrade to the Freedom card to avoid the annual fee and the possibility of lowering my credit score. I’m also looking into applying for the Reserve card after reading your post on how to reach the spending limit. A bit late but it’s a start. What should I do?