What Happens if You Don’t Activate a Credit Card?

after you apply for a credit card and you are accepted, you will receive your card in the mail. The card usually comes with an activation sticker attached, which lists a phone number and a website. You will need to activate your card through one of these channels to start using it.

Why do you need to activate your new credit card?

Credit card activation helps prevent credit card fraud, as it prevents would-be thieves from taking the cards out of mailboxes and using them. Credit card activation also lets your credit card issuer know that you’ve successfully received your new card and are ready to use your new line of credit.

It’s a good idea to activate your credit card as soon as possible, as you won’t be able to win credit card rewards or take advantage credit creation opportunities until you activate.

What happens if you don’t activate a credit card?

If you don’t activate your credit card, you won’t be able to use it to make purchases. You could end up at the grocery store with unexpected shopping complications.

Surprisingly, an unactivated credit card can still accrue interest. If your credit card has a annual fee, for example, the cost of the fee could be included in your first credit card billing cycle. Even if your credit card is not yet activated, your credit card issuer may still charge interest on that balance if it is not paid.

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An inactive credit card can also affect your credit score. O credit limit associated with the disabled card will be reported to the three major credit bureaus, which means it will appear on your credit report — and since you haven’t made any purchases with your new credit limit, your disabled card could lower yours credit utilization ratio and increase your credit score.

On the other hand, the credit check associated with your credit card application will also be reported to the major credit bureaus and hard credit inquiries it has the potential to lower your credit score by a few points. You can’t avoid the impact on your credit score by keeping the new card off. The credit inquiry becomes part of your credit report when you apply for the card, not when you activate it.

How to activate your credit card

Activating your credit card is a simple process and should only take a few minutes. If you received your new credit card in the mail, it should include instructions on how to activate it. In most cases, you’ll need to visit your credit card issuer’s website or call a specific activation number. Be prepared to provide identifying information, such as your social security number or date of birth.

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If you received one instant approval credit card, the activation process can take place when your application is approved, giving you the opportunity to start shopping right away. In some cases, you will need to reactivate your new credit card after it arrives in the mail.

If you can’t activate your new credit card the day it arrives, don’t worry, you won’t be penalized for not activating it right away. But if you keep your credit card deactivated for more than a month, your credit card issuer may contact you to ask if they received the card.

What happens if you close an account that was never activated?

When you close a credit card account that was never activated, the account is removed from your credit report. This could have a negative effect on your credit score, as it is likely to lower your available credit and increase your credit utilization ratio.

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In some cases, the credit card issuer will automatically close an unactivated credit card. This is only likely to happen if you keep your credit score inactive for a significant period of time.

The starting point

Before you can start using your new credit card, you need to activate it. Activating a credit card is a simple process and can often be completed online or over the phone in just a few minutes.

If you do not activate your credit card, you will not be able to make purchases, but you will still receive a monthly credit card bill and any credit card fees associated with your account may begin to accrue interest, so activating your credit card is one of the best ways to start use credit responsibly.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective and independent assessments of our writers and is not influenced by advertising or associations. It was not provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.


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