I didn’t activate my credit card. Is the account open anyway?

John Ganotis

John Ganotis | Blog

Sep 18, 2017 | Updated Jul 12, 2018

Are you feeling buyer’s remorse about a credit card you just got?

Maybe you felt pressured into getting a credit card at your favorite store’s checkout line, but now you’ve changed your mind.

Unfortunately, even if your card is not activated, the account is probably open.

Your credit scores may be better off if you leave it open and don’t use it, as long as the card doesn’t have an annual fee.

How is it open if I didn’t activate my card?

When you apply for a credit card, you’re agreeing that you want the account open if you are approved. You can always close a credit card (as long as it’s paid off), but the impact of closing it is the same whether you activated a card or not.

For security, a credit card usually needs to be activated once you get it in the mail, before you can use it. Even if the physical card is un-activated, the account can still be activated.

This can help prevent an unauthorized person from stealing a new credit card from your mailbox and using it. However, activation of the card isn’t the same as opening the account.

Do I still have to pay the annual fee?

If you applied for a card with an annual fee and you were approved, it’s likely the account is open and you owe the annual fee.

You may be able to contact the credit card issuer and ask a representative to waive the fee. If you haven’t activated or used the card yet and plan to close it immediately, that may help your case.

There’s no reason the credit card issuer is obligated to waive the annual fee, since you agreed to it by applying for the card, but if you ask nicely the issuer may waive the fee as a courtesy.

Closing a Credit Card Account

Whether you’ve activated the card or not, the impact of closing the account will probably be the same.

When you applied for the credit card, a hard credit inquiry was added to your credit reports. That means a bank looked at your credit reports. It is a normal part of the process when you apply for a credit card, whether you’re approved for a card or not. Hard inquiries usually have a negative impact on your credit scores, and stay on your credit reports for two years, even if you close the account.

Since you already got the hard inquiry and opened the account, you may be better off just leaving the card open and not using it, as long as it has no annual fee. The additional credit limit you have available can help your credit utilization, and the age of the account could help your credit scores by increasing your average account age over time.

Next, read this page to learn about how closing a credit card account impacts your credit reports and scores to decide whether you should close the account or not.

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