Updated: May 15
When you’re pursuing debt solutions or working to resolve credit problems, it’s often suggested that you close credit card accounts. This is smart in some cases, but keeping your oldest accounts open is actually more beneficial. Here’s why!
Older Credit Card Accounts Boost Credit Health
Credit reports and scores take a lot of financial info into account. Among the information considered is the age of your credit history. This is figured by calculating the average age of all your open accounts. The average age of accounts makes up about 15% of your score. As such, if you’re trying to manage credit card debt, consider taking steps to preserve your older credit card accounts so that your credit score doesn’t suffer.
If you enter a debt management plan or use a different debt relief option, you may be asked to close your accounts. The reason some programs require this is so that you don’t continue to use credit making it harder to eliminate debt. Still, you have a couple options to preserve your older accounts.
First, most debt relief programs give you the option to leave some accounts out of a consolidation plan. That means you can choose to keep your oldest card open. If you do this, you will have to continue paying the debt on that card on your own.
One way to make this easier is to use a balance transfer to move that debt to a newer card before you consolidate debt. This way, you’ll be able to have that debt managed while keeping your older card open without an outstanding balance.
Whether you choose to get some form of professional help with your debt or attempt to reduce it on your own, you’ll likely end up closing some accounts. Prioritize debt on older cards first, so that you can keep them open. This is a smart strategy for strengthening your credit score and preserving long-term financial outlook.