Credit Card Question: Can I refuse to activate?

A couple of weeks ago I applied for a new credit card, somewhat on a whim (it was in response to a pretty good offer). Yesterday a shiny new Visa arrived with a ridiculous credit limit and terms that, although competitive, are probably not the best for my situation.

I have not yet activated the card, and I frankly would prefer not to. I am in the market for a different card from the one I currently carry, but I regret having applied for this one without shopping around first.

My question is this: Do I still have the right to refuse the card and prevent the bank from opening this account? If not, I suppose I could use advice on the best course of action with respect to my credit score, i.e., leave the new card open? close it immediately? etc. I’m unclear on how this would affect my score, and although I am not shopping for anything big (house, car) short term, I will be in the next year or two.

Full disclosure: My current cards are between 7-10 years old, I do not carry a balance, and use them primarily for reimbursable business expenses, if this affects any advice.

Thanks in advance.

I’ve done the same thing. Problem is, the credit card companies often send a pre-approved offer, say “up to 3500 credit limit”. I’ll accept and get back a card with a 200.00 limit. That’s BS, I don’t need a buncha cards with tiny limits to have to remember to pay on time, so I just don’t activate it and call them up to let them know that I have cut up the card, and will they please purge any information they have on me.

It has taken a couple cycles to drop off their radar, but I haven’t seen any problem with it showing up on my credit reports, other than an inquiry.

Yes, you can refuse to activiate. At one time in my life I had exactly 26 of the S.O.B’s. None of them activated except one. After having them for almost 2 years I actually tried activating a few of them…and it worked! Just a quick phone call and they were active. That was about 9 years ago. I now only have 2. Funny thing, experts always warn about too many credit cards affecting your credit score, but I never had a problem getting mortgages, or car/motorcycle loans.

The scary thing is, at the time all those cards had a combined credit value (including equal cash withdrawal) of almost 208K! I could have went nuts and really screwed my future!

The only harm in having too many credit cards is that you might end up with too much credit available to you and you might get refused for loans. My business partner had been receiving credit cards for years, and he’d activate them and stick them in the safe. When he tried to refinance some properties he owns, the bank refused him because he had an open line of credit (from various creditors) of over $1 million.

He spent most of a day calling the 50 or so banks that had issued the credit cards and close every account except for the 1 or 2 that he actually uses and waited about 2 months and then his credit report reflected that he only had about $20,000 in open credit. The bank approved his loan.

You may have to do more than just not activate. You may have to call up the credit company to affirmatively cancel it (if you can get through the computer to do that). I had some unpleasant experiences with Citibank cards so when they expired I did not activate the renewal cards. Citibank billed me for something which I did not order (some sort of protection) on my new card which I never activated. I called Citibank and said first that I did not activate the card and second I never ordered the protection. The girl said first that if I don’t activate it, Citibank automatically activates it. (Can you believe that? What’s the point of activating it.) She said that I affirmatively ordered the protection and I knew damn well I didn’t. The whole thing was a sham and Citibank finally cancelled everything. I might add that I had the most difficult time getting to speak to a human being since everything was computered so that you either have to renew or sign up for a new card; there was no computered number to cancel or speak with anyone.