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Ususually getting rewards cards (and the associated sign-up bonuses) is the fun part, but closing them is not near as fun. Aside from the process of having to decide which cards to keep and which ones to close, the process of actually closing the accounts is not one of my favorite tasks. It ranks somewhere around scooping dog poop in the back yard and installing car seats in rental cars. In other words, I don’t like doing it.
I am a 30-something who doesn’t look forward to chatting on the phone in general, and certainly not with customer service reps who will likely transfer you at least once, and will often do their best to try to keep you as a customer even if all you want to do is just close the account. I have even read a recent report that one rep started crying when someone said they wanted to cancel their card. Maybe it’s just me, I am around enough tears in a course of a week with my young kiddo – I don’t need to hear anymore as a result of trying to close a credit card! Though I do feel bad if they are blamed for account closures.
So, when the first free year was up on a rewards card that I had, it was time to get it closed. I wasn’t using it, didn’t get any useful annual benefits from keeping it, I already had another similar card, and didn’t have any need to continue to hold on to it – certainly not just for the privilege of paying an annual fee. Don’t get me wrong, I pay annual fees on several cards that offer good ongoing benefits to me (or that I just keep for the account history), but that doesn’t mean that I am a hoarder who keeps all cards.
Given all of that, earlier this week it was time to get this closure off of my “to-do” list. I preferred not to call, so I did what any self respecting Generation X-er would do, I asked online to close the card. I utilized the secure messaging feature for my account, and sent a very brief message that said I would like to close my account ending in XXXX as I am not really using it very much, and I have another similar account already. About a day later I received a message back saying that account XXXX was closed and that the updated information would be reported on my credit reports within 45 days showing that I requested the account closure. Indeed the account now shows as closed on my online banking homepage.
The entire process of writing the secure message and reading the reply took about 60 seconds. Couldn’t hardly be any easier. The task is now officially moved to the “done” list. I’m sure closing accounts online isn’t possible with all banks. I have heard success stories with both Chase and Amex, but would be interested to hear success stories with other banks. There are some situations when closing an account online is not a good idea. The main reason would be if you want to try and get a retention bonus for keeping the card. A retention bonus might come in the form of a waived or reduced annual fee, some bonus points/miles, or a challenge to spend x in x amount of time for a bonus of some sort. You can read about my experience getting a retention bonus with my Citi AAdvantage Amex last year. In this case I had very little spending on the card, so wouldn’t be a very desirable customer to keep, and at the end of the day I didn’t want a retention bonus, I just wanted the card closed.
….and that is exactly what I got in 60 seconds flat. No complaints here!