How Often Should I Use My Credit Card To Keep It Active?


How often you should use your credit card to keep it active depends on your credit card issuer. However, if you don’t use your credit card for an extended period of time, your credit card issuer could close your account without warning. Though this may not sound serious, it could actually have a negative impact on your credit score. To keep your credit card active and maintain a good FICO score, try to use your card at least once every three to six months.

According to the American Bankers Association, there was more than 300 million open credit card accounts in the United States in 2022. Undoubtedly, credit cards are quickly becoming the preferred payment method for many.

While paying with plastic is much more convenient than carrying wads of cash, there’s a caveat: You must use your cards regularly to keep your credit card accounts active. If you fail to do so, your credit card issuer could shut down your accounts.

So, how often should you use your credit card to prevent losing access to it? Let’s take a look.

How often should you use your credit card to keep it active?

Though the amount of time your credit card can be inactive before it gets closed depends on the credit card issuer, Gabriel Lalonde, Certified Financial Planner, says to “use your card at least once every three to six months to keep it active.”

Most banks have policies regarding account inactivity, but they can vary by bank. Some banks may close an account after a certain period of inactivity, while others may not close the account but may charge fees for inactivity or start charging maintenance fees. Some examples of banks that have policies regarding account inactivity include JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Citibank. However, it’s important to note that these policies can change, so it’s always best to check with your bank directly to confirm their current policies.

The bottom line is that when you don’t use your credit card often enough, the credit card company could shut down your account without warning and only notify you after the fact. However, rules regarding this practice may vary by state, so you might want to investigate the rules in your area.

Pro Tip

If you want to know the precise length of account inactivity your credit card issuers allow, contact them directly to find out their policy. You can also find this information online by checking the card terms and conditions.

Why credit card usage matters

Your credit card usage matters because it affects your credit score and creditworthiness. According to Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, your credit usage accounts for 30% of your credit score and is a great indicator of lending risk.

So if you’re consistently hitting or going over your credit limit, your credit score could suffer since it shows you’re having trouble managing your finances. At the same time, if you never use the money on your credit line, there won’t be a way to track how responsibly you repay your debts.

The best way to determine your credit card usage is by using the credit utilization ratio. To calculate your credit utilization, add up the balances on all your credit accounts, divide that number by the sum of your credit limits, then multiply by 100 to get a percentage. While a high ratio may mean you’re spending too much of your credit limit, a lower ratio will indicate that you don’t overuse your credit.

Pro Tip

If you don’t know where you stand in terms of your credit health, head to to get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

What happens if you don’t use your credit card?

When you don’t use your credit card, you can expect your credit card issuer to eventually close your account and remove your credit line. Though this may seem like no big deal since you aren’t using the credit card anyway, it could significantly impact your credit health. Here’s how a closed credit card account could affect you:

  • Your credit utilization ratio may rise. Your credit utilization ratio is the second most important factor determining your credit score. If a credit card issuer closes your account, you’ll have less credit available to use, which then increases your credit utilization rate and, in turn, could negatively impact your credit score.
  • Your credit mix could be affected. Your credit mix refers to the different types of revolving and installment credit accounts you have on the books. Having some variety in your credit mix could boost your credit score since it shows that you can manage all kinds of debt. So if the credit card issuer closes your only credit card account, your credit mix could be affected.

Financial coach Michael Ryan says you should “think of your credit score like a plant. Just like a plant needs regular watering and sunlight to grow, your credit score needs regular activity and responsible management to thrive.” If you neglect your credit card accounts, this could cause “your credit score to wither and decline, just like a plant that goes without care.”

IMPORTANT! There’s a common myth that closing inactive accounts will impact your credit score because the average age of your credit history will shrink. This isn’t exactly true. According to FICO, your FICO score takes both open and closed accounts into consideration when determining your score.

Could you use your credit card too much?

Yes, you could use your credit card too much and damage your creditworthiness. Experian recommends that you aim for a credit utilization ratio of 30% or lower to maintain a good credit score. So if you have a credit card with a $3,000 limit, you shouldn’t put more than $900 each month on that card.

However, if you want an excellent credit score, it’s best to keep your credit utilization under 10%. According to Experian data, consumers with exceptional FICO Scores (800 to 850) had an average credit utilization ratio of only 5.7%, which means they only spent $171 out of their $3,000 monthly credit limit.

Ways to keep your credit card active

If you have a credit card that you’ve been neglecting, here are some simple ways to keep it active to prevent credit card companies from closing it without notice.

  • Use it to pay recurring bills. If you have a Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, or any online subscription account, consider using your credit card to pay the monthly recurring fee. Most of these services allow you to set up autopay so you won’t have to worry about forgetting to pay your bills.
  • Rotate card usage. If you have multiple credit cards, use a different one every month so that none of them are neglected. Remember, only make purchases you can pay off in full and on time each month to avoid mounting credit card debt and hefty interest payments.
  • Keep it in your wallet. Another simple way to keep your credit card active is to keep it in your wallet. This way, you can use it to pay for small purchases like a Starbucks drink every once in a while.
  • Make it your primary payment method. If you shop online quite often, consider making your primary payment method for one of your online shopping accounts. Just remember to keep an eye on your credit utilization ratio and don’t overspend.

If you’re looking to expand your credit limit, and maybe even earn some rewards through spending, you may want to look for a new rewards credit card. And if you get one with a 0% APR promotional period, like those below, you won’t have to worry about interest payments for over a year.

Should you close a credit card you don’t use?

In short, no. As mentioned earlier, canceling a credit card you don’t use could damage your credit health since it could increase your credit utilization ratio and affect your credit mix.

So before pulling the trigger and canceling your credit card, consider using it to pay for recurring subscription charges like your Netflix or Hulu payments. This way, you don’t have to remind yourself to actively use your credit card to keep it alive.

Pro Tip

If your credit score has been affected by an inactive credit account that was closed, consider getting a credit-builder card to rebuild your credit score.


How can I keep my credit card active without using it?

Unfortunately, there’s no magical way to keep your credit card active without using it. To avoid having your account shut down by your card issuer, use it a few times each month without going over the 30% utilization ratio.

How many times a month should I use my credit card to build credit?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to using credit cards to build and maintain good credit. However, as a general rule of thumb, you should use your cards sparingly each month and be sure not to exceed the 30% credit utilization.

A reasonable approach would be to make one or two monthly purchases if you can responsibly keep up with the payments. Remember, it’s important to always pay your credit card bill in full each month and on time — a late payment can cause a dent in your credit score.

What is the Chase 5/24 rule?

The Chase 5/24 rule is a rule by JP Morgan Chase that limits you from getting approved for any Chase credit card products if you already have five or more credit cards — from any financial institution — within a 24-month period.

Chase set the rule to prevent customers from applying for credit cards to solely take advantage of the welcome bonus and close the account before paying the annual fee.

Is it okay if I don’t use my credit card for a month?

Yes, not using your credit card for a month should be fine. Just make sure you’re up to date with your monthly payments if you have an existing balance. If you carry a balance from month to month, you could incur hefty credit card interest charges and potentially damage your credit score.

Key Takeaways

  • There’s no universal rule on how often you should use your credit card to keep it active. However, most experts recommend using it at least once every three to six months.
  • Not using your credit card could lead to its closure and negatively impact your credit utilization rate and credit mix.
  • Avoid canceling your credit card account since it could damage your credit score. Instead, consider using it to pay your recurring subscription fees or setting it as your primary payment method for your online shopping account to keep it active.
  • Keep your credit utilization ratio under 30% to maintain a good credit score and demonstrate that you can manage your finances wisely.
View Article Sources
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  4. How To Cancel A Credit Card The Right Way — SuperMoney
  5. What Is Available Credit? — SuperMoney
  6. How to Apply for a Credit Card So You’ll Get Approved — SuperMoney
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  8. What are the Different Types of Credit Cards? — SuperMoney
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  11. Total Visa® Card — SuperMoney