Q&A Video: How Often Should I Use My Credit Card?

John Ulzheimer

John Ulzheimer | Q&A Videos

Jan 11, 2016 | Updated Jan 12, 2016

Is there a right number of times to use your credit card per month?

While this won’t affect your credit score, not using your credit card for extended periods of time could result in it being canceled.

If the credit card issuer isn’t making money with you, they may want to end the relationship sooner or later.

There’s no way to tell for sure when that might happen, but using your cards occasionally will keep them active.

Learn more about how often you need to use your credit cards in our Q&A video with credit expert John Ulzheimer.

Transcript

Hi. My name is John Ulzheimer, and I am a credit expert who contributes to CreditCardInsider.com. If you have any questions for us please leave them in the comments section below. Today’s question comes from a YouTube user with the screen name Spike Ubiquity. And this is Spike’s question…

How often should I use my credit card?

Awesome question. First off, I’m glad you have a credit card. Credit cards are unfairly demonized by some very vocal consumer advocates, and users of cards. Which is a little unfair because they’re a very safe form of transacting. And as long as you’re responsible with them, they’re very inexpensive. In many cases it’s free to use a credit card. So how often should you use it?

Well, there really is no minimum requirement for usage of a credit card. You can use it for luxuries. You can use it for necessities. And you can use it for convenience, meaning having things just auto-billed against a credit card that you’re gonna have to pay for anyways. Things like, you know, your gym memberships, magazine subscriptions your cell phone bill, things like that.

Some consumers choose to go the opposite direction and they use it for everything possible, everything possible if they’re going to buy. And those are the types of consumers who are using it to load up on rewards points. So really it’s a matter of personal preference.

Here’s something to keep in mind… The credit card issuer makes no money if you don’t use the card, unless there’s a fee. So if there’s no annual fee on your credit card, and you don’t use it, then the credit card issuer actually loses money having you as a customer. You’re below the $0 line on the revenue curve for them. They will eventually close your account.

They may close it after 3 months of activity. They may close it after 6 months of inactivity. They may close it after 2 years of inactivity. It’s completely up to the credit card issuer. And there is no standard in the credit card world, regarding how long you have to be inactive before the credit card issuer will close the account.

The reason that they will eventually close the account is because they are no longer allowed to charge you inactivity fees. There actually was a time in the past where if you sat on your credit card for more than a few months without using it you would actually get assessed a fee, $30, $29. And that was an inactivity fee.

The CARD Act, which is the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, made inactivity feels illegal. So there are no more inactivity fees on credit cards. And so the only alternative for the issuer is to close your card, because they don’t want that extension of credit sitting out there not being used, however it is at risk. They would rather issue it to someone else who is going to use it, and obviously generate revenue.

Credit card issuers are for profit companies. They don’t do what they do because of altruism. They do what they do because they want to make money. You know, fair, unfair whatever. That’s perfectly fine with me. It’s very easy to control the cost of a credit card, because it’s based largely on fees and interest. And you can avoid those very easily.

So as far as inactivity goes, I would not allow it to go inactive for more than a few months at any given time. Charge something completely modest and almost immaterial on it: Socks, pick up your dry cleaning, fill up your tank of gas, take your buddy out for lunch.

Do something to get some activity on the card, which generates revenue for the card issuer in the form of interchange or the swipe fee, which is picked up by the merchant, not by you. And that will reset the clock of activity. Then you don’t really need to worry about, you know dormancy, and any sort of problems with the credit card issuer closing the account because of non-use.

Are you interesting in learning more about using credit cards responsibly? Check out this post »

If you have any other questions pertaining to credit or financial topics, then please submit them to CreditCardInsider.com or in the comments section below. Have a nice day!

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