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I've finally paid off my credit cards. Should I close the accounts or leave them open with zero balances?

It's a good idea to close redundant or unused accounts you do not consider necessary. Here are a few reasons why:

  • If credit is easily available, you may be tempted to use it. Any impulsive purchases could quickly mount up and result in serious debt problems.
  • Open accounts may be used fraudulently if your account numbers are stolen or your cards are lost.
  • You may have to pay annual fees for the cards even if you don't use them.
  • Whether used or not, open accounts may create trouble when you apply for other credit such as mortgages or loans. Lenders commonly review your credit history and may see you as a credit risk if you have multiple open accounts with a large amount of available credit. Potentially, you could still use them and build up unacceptable levels of debt.

It's best to cut up and return to the issuer any cards you don't want. Refuse to accept renewal cards you don't plan to use. You'll want to contact each card issuer to determine specific account closing requirements. Ask for a confirmation letter of the closing and check that it is listed on your credit report as having been "closed at the customer's request."