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

John Ganotis

John Ganotis | Blog

Sep 18, 2017 | Updated May 10, 2019

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.

Was this helpful?

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by bank advertisers. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers' responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

  • karthik juttukrishna

    Hi i need a help here ” as i request for a credit card from bank and when the hard card got delivered to me, i asked the bank to close the credit card as i don’t want to have that card activated . Bank says that i cannot close it as one of the wallets protect company has deducted charges from the credit card which i never activated, i have to pay for the service i never used. After certain number of days the A/C got referred to debt collection agency, in such situation do still need to pay bank for the same ?”

The Insider

Ellen Sirull
Can You Rent a Rental Car With a Debit Card? Why You May Want to Reconsider
Ellen Sirull | May 23, 2019

Many rental car companies allow you to rent with debit cards, with some restrictions, but is it really a good idea compared to credit cards? Find out here.

Read More
Sean Messier
How Can I Easily Stop Getting So Many Credit Card Offers In The Mail?
Sean Messier | May 23, 2019

Tired of pre-approved credit card offers? Find out why you're getting them, how to opt out, and why these offers might actually be worth your time.

Read More
Susan Shain
7 Best Credit Cards for Building Credit
Susan Shain | May 22, 2019

Just starting your credit journey and looking for the best credit cards to build credit? Here are seven solid options — some even with cash back rewards!

Read More