I have 19 credit cards. I know, it’s probably a bit too many. But in my defense, I have a specific reason (and a good one) for each credit card that I opened. For example, the reason I’m having two Barclay Arrival cards is because I wanted to get 60,000 bonus miles, which is worth >$600 for travel, and to take advantage of their 0% Intro APR for Balance Transfers. And why do I have a Citi Hilton Visa Signature card? Because I needed free hotel stays at Hilton (which I did, more than once). You see, I never blindly open new credit cards, and I know not to keep a balance on my credit card(unless it’s a 0% APR card which I’ve taken out the balance for a small fee and made higher investment returns on the balance). I make credit cards work for me.
If you are like me and would like to get free air tickets, hotel stays, or simply free money, opening new credit cards is a fantastic and easy way. However, before you do that, make sure to understand that these credit inquires do stay on your credit report for two years, which makes it harder for you to get a new line of credit, and it affects your credit score (read this post about how credit cards influence your credit score).
Anyway, even though I’ve already closed several credit cards in the past couple of years, with years of credit card churning, I still have 19 credit cards left in my wallet. Since I’m planning to do some real estate investing, I’m taking steps to get my credit report “mortgage-ready”. I’ve already increased my credit score by >70 points in just a month, but right now I still have too many open lines of credit which I need to reduce the number of.
It didn’t take me long to decide that I have 11 credit cards that I should get rid of. Two of them still have rewards on them – I redeemed them for cash and I’ll close the account later when I’ve actually got the rewards . So I’ll start with the remaining nine cards first.
How it happened
I started calling customer service with the number found on the back of each card. I thought this would be a quick and easy process, and it was, until I started talking to a Citi customer representative, when I remembered something called “retention offers”. If you don’t know, when you call your credit card company asking to close a credit card account, in order to keep your business, the credit company may give you a retention offer/bonus, which could be in the form of increased cash back in a limited period of time, or simply a high bonus reward after you finish some spending requirement. It didn’t take me long to close my Amex, Barclays cards, but Citi was different. After calling in stating I wanted to close my Citi Dividend card, I was transferred to an “Account Specialist”. The conversation goes something like this: [Read more…]