There are a lot of promotions out there right now. Due to coronavirus, many banks added bonus categories to their cards to encourage more use – which is great! The downside is it becomes easy to forget your other cards.
I often recommend downgrading cards with annual fees to their no-fee counterparts to preserve the credit line and history. Older accounts in particular can age your overall credit and lower your utilization rate, which can help your credit score.
But! Because these cards are free to keep, it’s easy to stick ’em in a drawer and forget about them. Like I just did with my US Bank Radisson Rewards Visa. 🤦🏻♂️
I got a letter in the mail saying my card was closed effective immediately and to destroy it because the account was inactive. Dang, US Bank – you know how to break up, don’t you? Give a guy a warning!
So this is your reminder to use ALL your credit cards. Especially if you have a couple dozen floating around out there like me.
Use credit cards at least once a year
I’d had this particular card for nearly 7 years with a limit of $16,500. It’s a pretty old card for me. In the past, I’ve loaded a few bucks to my Amazon account and called it a year.
Because it slipped my mind between moving, selling my old place, and the pandemic, I guess it’s been more than a year since I’ve used it. Oops.
It seems US Bank noticed too, because they sent me this:
Like… wow. In the past when I’ve gotten these types of letters, they at least give you 30 days to use the account. But US Bank is NOT here to play. They will toss you off the boat and never look back!
This prompted me to do a card inventory and see what other cards could use some love. Because issuers are looking to cut risk everywhere they can right now.
It also made me look at my Radisson account. Apparently I have ~18K points in there even though I haven’t stayed at a Radisson hotel since the 1930s… or was it the 1940s? Either way, it’s been an age.
The other thing is I was getting a free checking account through US Bank that typically costs ~$15 a month. But if you have any US Bank credit card – even one with no fee – you can get it free. So this closure sort of frays my relationship with US Bank, unless I want to open another card with them in the next few weeks. And I kinda do want another Altitude Reserve card… which having the checking account opens the door for approval.
I have until early August to decide what to do, as there’s no way I’m paying to keep a checking account when there are so many great free ones out there. And while I want to open new cards, I didn’t necessarily want to do it right now. Especially because I don’t think I’ll travel again in the near future. Yeah.
And to think… all of this could’ve been avoided if I’d slapped $1 on the card in the last year. The days are long, but the years are short.
Ways to spend on a card
Here’s what I’ve done in the past that has worked for me. First I round up all my physical cards. Put them in my wallet for a short spell and:
- Get a tank of gas with each one
- Use self-checkout at the grocery store and pay for items one by one (don’t do this if there’s a line, obvi)
- Get a car wash (which is my version of a spa day – seriously, I love car washes)
- Buy a snack at a gas station
Or online at home you can:
- Load up your Amazon account ($1 minimum)
- Send a small amount to a friend via PayPal (even with a 3% fee, it could be worth paying a few cents on a small amount)
- Charge yourself a few bucks with Square
- Buy small dollar gift cards individually
- Load your coffee app with a small amount (Starbucks, Dunkin, Peet’s, even McDonalds – thanks for the tip, Boonie!)
There are lots of little ways to put spend on cards. Remember to take them back out of your wallet – and maybe set a calendar alert or note on your phone so you don’t forget in the future. 😉
Oh and remember to pay the card off, too. If you don’t log into those account often, it can be easy to forget. And you don’t want a $30 late free over a $1 charge (this has 100% happened to me lol).
Use credit cards – bottom line
I love having older cards with big limits and no annual fees. They’re an anchor of my credit and a big reason my credit score is over 800. And I totally messed up and lost a good one because I was too busy chasing pandemic bonus categories on other cards.
What makes it worse is it only takes two minutes to put a $1 charge on a card – and I didn’t do it.
So don’t be like me. Pull all your cards out. If it’s been a while since you’ve used them, give them some attention. Banks are being extra cautious about credit lines right now – so use ’em or lose ’em.
I’m resisting the urge to end this post with “Thanks for coming to my TED talk.” So I’m gonna go before I do that. That’s my message for today. May all beings be happy. ✨* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update!
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