How to Know If Your Credit Card Still Active

Woman using credit card at computer
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To use your credit card for purchases and other transactions, it must be open, active, and in good standing. Your credit card can become inactive and thereby unusable in certain circumstances.

There are a few ways your credit card can become inactive. If you haven’t used your credit card in several months, or years even, the credit card issuer may deactivate your credit card. Or, if you’ve fallen behind on your payments, your purchasing privileges may be suspended. Your credit card can also be inactive because it's expired and you haven't received a new one.

An inactive credit card will be declined when you try to use it. So to save yourself a little embarrassment and the hassle of finding a backup payment option, check to see whether your credit card is active before you use it.

Call Customer Service

The simplest way to clear up any question about whether your credit card is still active is to call your credit card issuer and ask. Call the number on the back of your credit card to contact customer service and the representative will be able to give you the status of your account. While you're on the phone, customer service can reactivate an inactive credit card so you can make purchases on the card.

Try to Use It

If, for some reason, you don’t want to call customer service, you can test your credit card’s status by using it to make a purchase. A declined card would be a sign that your card is no longer active, but it could also mean a number of other things, e.g. the card is expired or you've reached your credit limit. It’s wise to carry a backup payment method in your wallet just in case your suspicions about an inactive credit card are true.

What if you lost or misplaced the credit card a long time ago and you don't remember the credit card number? You can get the card issuer’s number from their website and give them your social security number to locate your account. (Make sure you're at the correct website before giving out your personal information.) The card issuer can send you a replacement credit card if your account is still active.

Check Your Credit Report

Finally, your credit report can give you an idea about your credit card status. Credit card issuers generally report credit card status to the credit bureaus throughout the month. If your credit card is closed, your credit report will probably reflect that. It won't, however, tell you why your account was closed. You'll have to contact your former credit card issuer to get that information.

What to Do If Your Card Is Inactive

Some inactive credit cards can be reactivated by just calling your credit card issuer and asking. You may have to catch up on a delinquent balance before you'll be allowed to use your credit card again. Unfortunately, if your card is completely closed, you may not be able to open it up again, especially if it was closed because of a delinquency.

Check Your Balance and Available Credit, Too

Once you've confirmed your credit card is still active, you need to know how much you're able to charge. Ask your credit card issuer or check your online account for your current balance and available credit before making any purchases. That way you can be sure you're not exceeding your credit limit or at risk of having your card declined.

You're still responsible for making regular minimum payments on your balance, even if your credit card is inactive. Missing your credit card payments has serious consequences, including late fees and damage to your credit score.