The Mistake That Cost Me A Credit Card & May Affect My Credit Score

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I have a lot of credit cards – not as many as some but a lot more than most – and I’m normally pretty good at keeping track of them. I have spreadsheets that keep track of my spending on each card, I have all my cards set up for autopay to make sure that I never miss a payment (and I never have) and I have alerts set up for everything from payments due to charges over a certain limit….. so I like to think that I keep my credit well organised. Well, it turns out I’m not as organised as I thought I was.

I subscribe to Credit Karma and Credit Sesame to help me keep on top of what’s going on with my various cards but I don’t use the services to check my credit score any more – I can get a more accurate FICO score through any number of credit cards that now offer that service for free. What I use these services for is for the  alerts they offer which let me know when something in my credit profile changes.

Normally the email alerts I receive are pretty benign – usually letting me know that a balance has been paid off – so I don’t do much more than scan these emails when they come in….but the last alert I got from Credit Karma grabbed my attention pretty quickly!

a screenshot of a credit report

An account was closed??!!!

I knew I hadn’t closed any accounts and I also knew that there were no issues with any of my credit cards….so what was going on?

I quickly logged in to my Credit Card account and followed the links to my credit report. Scrolling down my report I came to this:

a screenshot of a computer

Having a remark on my account is not something I’m used to seeing and below that, as expected, was an indication that one of my accounts had been closed.

Not good.

I clicked on the “remarks on account” link and found what I was looking for:

a white rectangular object with black text

One of my Citi cards had been closed…..I had no idea why.

Further investigation revealed that the card in question was my Citi Double Cash credit card…..

a blue and green credit card

…..and suddenly I started to understand.

I got my Citi Double Cash credit card when I downgraded from the Citi AAdvantage Executive credit card in 2015 and, as Credit Karma showed me, the last time there had been any activity on this account was back in March 2015:

a screenshot of a computer screen

I’ve never had any real use for the Citi Double Cash card from an everyday spending point of view but, as a free credit card, it did serve two other purposes. It helped add age to my credit score and it kept alive a $15,000 credit limit that Citi had given me for my original AAdvantage card….so I kept it in a drawer near my bed.

I’m normally pretty good at remembering to use all my credit cards once in a while (even the ones buried somewhere in my home that I have no real use for) but somehow I’d forgotten to use this card in over two years.

Citi noticed this and shut it down – no warning, no “are you planning to use this card?” email, not even an email to tell me they’d shut the card down. Brutal.

I gave Citi a call to see what could be done but, although they offered to reopen the card for me, they said that this would require a hard pull on my credit score and that’s not something I was happy to authorise….at least not for a card I know I’m not going to use and that will, because it will be recorded as a new card, do damage to the age of my credit record.

Bottom Line

Not only am I annoyed with myself for allowing this to happen but I’m also annoyed that this could have an adverse affect on my credit score…albeit probably only temporarily.

The loss of the Double Cash credit card will not only lower the average age of my credit lines (bad for my credit score) but the loss of the $15,000 credit line that came with the card will also have a negative impact.

As things stand (and broadly speaking), the older your lines of credit are and the more credit you have (but don’t really use) the better your credit score will be so, in the short-term, I expect to see my credit score fall.

My score will almost certainly recover in time but, had I been paying more attention, there would be no need for “recovery” and my credit score would have continued its slow upward trajectory.

Lesson learned.