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

After you apply for a credit card and received, you will receive your card in the mail. Usually, the card has an activation sticker attached, listing the phone number and website. You 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 can help prevent that credit card fraud, because it prevents thieves from swiping cards from mailboxes and using them. Credit card activation also notifies your credit card issuer that you have 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, because you won’t make any money credit card rewards or taking advantage of credit building opportunities until you activate it.

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

If you do not activate your credit card, you will not be able to use it to make purchases. You may go to the grocery store with unexpected checkout complications.

Surprisingly, an inactive credit card can still accrue interest. If your credit card has a annual fee, for example, the cost of the bill may be included in your first credit card billing cycle. Even if your credit card has not been activated, your credit 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. the credit limit associated with the unactivated card will be reported to the three major credit bureaus, which means it will appear on your credit report — and since you haven’t purchased anything against your new credit limit, your inactive card will reduce your credit utilization ratio and increase your credit score.

On the other hand, the credit check related to your credit card application will also be reported to the major credit bureaus, and hard credit inquiries has the potential to lower your credit score by a few points. You can’t avoid taking a hit to your credit score by keeping the new card inactive. 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 to complete. When you receive your new credit card in the mail, it should include instructions on how to activate it. In most cases, you will 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 receive a instant credit card approval, the activation process can take place once your application is approved, giving you the opportunity to start purchasing immediately. In some cases, you may 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 right away. But if you keep your credit card inactive for more than a month, your credit card issuer may contact you to ask if the card was received.

What happens if you close an account that has not been activated?

If you close a credit card account that has not been activated, the account will be removed from your credit report. This can have a negative impact on your credit score, as it tends to decrease your available credit and increase your credit utilization ratio.

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

The bottom line

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

If you can’t activate your credit card, you won’t be able to make purchases — but you’ll still receive a monthly credit card bill, and any credit card fees associated with your account may start accruing interest, which activates. Your credit card is one of the best ways to start use credit responsibly.

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

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