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A Quick FICO Minute

October 3rd, 2006 at 10:29 pm

Here is another great question from a subscriber. ďI am trying to get rid of some credit cards that I no longer use. I currently have five credit cards. The ones that I want to close have a zero balance. Which ones should I keep, or should I just keep them all?Ē

Even though I have an answer for your question, this is pretty much a personal issue. I will have to assume a few things on the credit cards you want to close. First, you probably no longer need or want them anymore. Second, these credit cards are not the oldest ones in your repertoire.

When you close down credit cards most people think that it will automatically increase your credit score. Well, I have some news for you. Most of the time it will actually decrease your score. The reason for the decrease can be easily explained with some simple math.

Letís just say you have $5000.0 of credit card debt and you have four credit cards. Two credit cards with $2000.0 credit limit and the other two have a $3000.0 credit limit which means that you are using 50% of your eligible credit ($5000/10,000). If you were to close your two $2000.0 credit cards you would be left with an eligible $6000.0 credit limit, but your debt ratio just went up to 83.3% ($5000/6000). *Remember that your debt ratio plays a key role in your FICO score*

Letís take the same situation as described above with a different issue. Letís say your two $2000.0 credit cards were open in 1997 and the other $3000.0 ones were opened in 2001. If you decided to close both of the $2000.0 credit cards and keep the others opened your credit score would probably go down a bit just because you closed four years of credit history. This will also affect your credit score, because the length of your credit history will change.

Before you start calling the credit companies and cutting up your cards make sure you look at the downside of it. If you do have to close some down make sure they arenít the oldest ones in your wallet/purse unless they have a yearly fee. See, there are some good reasons why having several credit cards can be beneficial.

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