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It happens to the best of us. You go online and see something you think you really want, and while overcome with elation, you click the “submit” button. Five minutes later your elation turns to horror as you think to yourself, “What have I done?”
Of course, that’s not a problem when you order something from Amazon.com because you can simply retrieve your order on the site and cancel it within a certain amount of time. However, if you just submitted an application for a credit card that you no longer want, it may not be quite as simple.
You May Have Only Minutes to Cancel a Credit Card Application
There may be a very short window from the time you submit a credit card application to getting in immediate contact with a customer service rep to let them know you made a mistake. However, once your application has been approved, it is probably too late.
By the time you receive approval, the credit card issuer has already conducted a hard pull on your credit and soon after that your credit card account is created. You may not have received your card, but the credit card issuer will have already reported your newly opened account to the credit bureaus.
At that point, all you can really do is cancel the credit card and close the account. However, before taking that action, there are a few things you should consider.
What’s the Impact on Your Credit Score?
If you already have a number of credit cards with a long and flawless payment history, and you have a healthy credit utilization ratio (below 30 percent), closing a new account isn’t likely to have a major or long-lasting impact on your credit score. However, there could be an impact on your credit score in other cases.
However, if you are fairly new to credit or your recent credit history has been problematic, you could see a bigger hit based on the “new credit” and “credit utilization factor,” which account for 40 percent of your score.
Opening a new credit card account may have helped your score by increasing the amount of available credit, which reduces your credit utilization ratio. When you close the account, your available credit is reduced so your credit utilization ratio goes up. If the ratio is above 30 percent, it is likely hurting your score.
You also dinged your credit when you applied for the card. The credit card issuer did a hard pull on your credit which is reported as a hard inquiry on your credit report. A hard inquiry lowers your score temporarily, but if you turn around and apply for another credit card, another hard inquiry could lower your score even more.
Do a Credit Card Swap
One way around that may be to contact the credit card issuer and let them know you made a mistake in choosing the card and would prefer another one of their cards. Maybe the annual fee was too high on the card and you prefer a card with a lower fee. You can ask the card issuer to exchange your card for a different one. Just make sure you fully understand the terms, fees, and APR of the new card before accepting it. That way you can avoid another hard inquiry.
If you don’t plan on getting a different card, wait at least a month to check your credit report to ensure the account has been canceled. You will also want to wait at least six months before applying for new credit to minimize the impact of hard inquiries on your credit score.
Maybe You Should Keep the Card
Unless you’re paying an annual fee that is too high relative to the benefits offered by the card, you may want to consider just keeping the card. If you use it wisely and pay the balance in full each month, adding a credit card account can be good for your credit score. It helps your credit utilization ratio and adds to your payment history.
However, if there is still a credit card out there you would rather have, be sure not to run up your credit card balance, and also wait six months before applying for it. If your credit is healthy and your income can support it, you shouldn’t have any problem in qualifying for a new card.
Author: Jeff Gitlen
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