I’m growing more concerned about my relationship with credit card issuers. We’ve been getting along mostly well for several years. I charge many of my expenses, pay my bills on time, collect some rewards, and they don’t levy any additional fees. These companies are certainly making money off of me through the interchange fees they charge the merchants with whom I do business, but my bank accounts still mostly benefit from the use of credit cards.
One such method is through annual fees. Until recently, annual credit card fees were reserved for cards with concierge benefits and sub-prime borrowers. Now, if issuers feel you aren’t using your credit card enough, you may be required to pay a fee. Back in November, Bank of America announced the addition of annual fees for some customers. Citi has recently sent communication to many of its credit card customers to provide the option of opting out of a new $60 fee.
I’ve been using credit cards for at least sixteen years, and I’m certain I wouldn’t know how many accounts I have unless I pull a recent credit report. I have three cards in my wallet, two for personal use and one for business. For several other accounts, I get new cards in the mail every so often. I file them away without activating them. Other issuers may not have my current address, so it is possible there are other inactive accounts I don’t know about.
My credit report should list all of these accounts. As I don’t have a recent credit report, I visited AnnualCreditReport.com the other day to get an update.
I found three open credit card accounts on the report not accounted for.
- a Capital One card opened in September 1998, last reported in October 2006
- a Citi card opened in June 2006, last reported in July 2008 — I believe this was a card whose number changed
- a Best Buy/HSBC card opened in October 2001, last reported in November 2002
I am most concerned about the Best Buy/HSBC card. I used this card to take advantage of a 0% APR offer for purchases. I have not heard of inactive HSBC cards receiving a new annual fee, but I don’t recall receiving any mail pertaining to this account in years. I do not want to miss a notification, particularly if HSBC wants to change the terms.
The credit report lists the phone number, so I plan to call and either update my information or cancel the account. Canceling this credit card would affect my credit score negatively because the account has been open longer than my current average age of credit lines. I may cancel regardless just to be comfortable that I won’t find any surprises.
If you have credit card accounts that may be open but inactive, I suggest checking your credit report and collecting information for the unfamiliar accounts listed. Call the companies’ phone numbers listed on the report, update your account information, and cancel the accounts if you want more peace of mind.
Updated February 28, 2010 and originally published February 25, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.