Last Chance! We’re Giving Away $50,000! Enter Now. See Official Rules



Contests and

Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Happy African American couple

AARP Books

Visit the Books Section

Enjoy titles on retirement, Social Security, and becoming debt-free.

Jobs You Might Like

most popular


Ask Sid

Canceled Cards and a Credit Score

Q. I want to close two credit cards that recently imposed an annual fee. Will this hurt my credit score?

A. Maybe, maybe not. "It depends on what else is on your credit report at the moment your next score is calculated," says Craig Watts of FICO, the company whose credit scores are most widely used by lenders in determining creditworthiness.

Although many factors arise in calculating a score, the primary consideration when closing existing accounts is the impact on your "credit utilization" — the ratio of existing credit card balances to their cumulative credit limits.

Let's say you have three credit cards, each with a $5,000 limit. If all three accounts have a zero balance at the moment you close two of them, it likely won't lower your score. "Your utilization is zero because you have no balances," explains Watts.

But say you owe $3,000 on one card and cancel the two that have zero balances. Your utilization suddenly jumps from 20 percent of the old $15,000 cumulative limit to 60 percent of the new $5,000 limit. This could ding your score. Advice: Pay off that $3,000 balance before you pull the plug on the other plastic.

One other common question in closing long-held card accounts is whether it will affect your credit history, which accounts for 15 percent of a FICO score. It's "a myth that as soon as you close a card, it becomes invisible to scoring models and you've lost 30 years of accumulated history," says Watts. "A closed account remains on your credit history, probably for another decade."

Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer and health issues.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits HomeServe

Members can protect their homes with comprehensive repair plans from HomeServe.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Woman holding smartphone in city, Google map tool

Members can find discounts on the go via the AARP® Member Advantages Offer Finder app.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points


Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.