Individual credit card issuers may offer the ability to reactivate a credit card or credit account that has been closed by request or due to payment issues and possible fraudulent activity. To reactivate your account, you need to call the customer service number on the back of your charge card to speak with a representative about reinstatement.
The issuer of your credit card should provide a full set of terms related to use, activation, and deactivation of your card when you first enroll.
Personally Closed Account
Sometimes closing a credit account affects credit scores in a highly negative way, especially if the account made up a large percentage of your unused available credit. If closing your card creates this problem, or if a personal situation arises that makes reopening the account a good idea, the card issuer may be able to help. When you close a credit account, the representative assisting with the closure over the telephone reads off important information related to the account termination, which can include the time period you are allowed to send in a request to rescind your cancellation and the terms for repayment of any outstanding balance.
If you were not provided with this information, call the credit card issuer and inquire about reopening your account. Depending on the time period, your account may be reopened immediately or after the credit card company has reviewed a copy of your credit report. Before committing to reactivation, verify with the representative exactly how your account history will show up on your credit report in the future. Ideally, you want the historical data to reflect the age of your original account with the issuer, not the date of reactivation since older accounts in good standing contribute to a higher credit score.
Credit Card Canceled by Issuer
If your issuing bank cancels or freezes your credit card because of late payments, high credit utilization, an over-limit charge or other financial concerns, a phone call to a customer service representative may lead to reactivation of your account. Prepare a plan for addressing the account issue before calling. For example, if you went over your credit limit with a charge, make a payment that brings the account back under the credit limit. Reinstatement of the account remains at the issuer's discretion, but attempting to rectify an unfortunate, atypical occurrence should help your case.
Fraud Alert Deactivations
If your credit card company believes that fraudulent activity took place with your credit card or your account, the card may be temporarily frozen in order to prevent further fraudulent transactions. A phone call to customer service to verify your identity and any irregular recent charges, such as a high-dollar purchase or a charge originating in a new city, should lead to reactivation of your card while you are still on the line unless the charges were, in fact, fraudulent. In this case, the bank issues you a new credit card with a new number., and your old card will be deactivated. After the new card is activated, you can resume charging as usual.
Credit Card Inactivity
Some credit card companies deactivate a credit card account if it has been dormant for an extended period of time. Customer service for the card could, depending on company policy, reactivate your old account upon request or require reapplication for a new account. In either instance, the issuer may pull a recent copy of your credit report. If you do not want a recent inquiry on your credit report, ask the representative about the terms of reactivation and decline if a report pull will occur.
- Bankrate: Reopening an Old Account to Improve Credit
- Bank of America: Dealing with Credit Card Fraud or Identity Theft
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Requirements for Over-the-Limit Transactions." Accessed Jun 18, 2020.
- Experian. "What is a Credit Utilization Rate?" Accessed June 18, 2020.
- Experian. "What Is a Penalty APR?" Accessed June 18, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Why Did My Credit Card Issuer Increase My Late Payment Fee?" Accessed June 18, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Can My Credit Card Company Charge a Fee Based on How I Paid My Bill, Such as for Making a Payment Over the Phone?" Accessed June 18, 2020.
Ashley Mott has 12 years of small business management experience and a BSBA in accounting from Columbia. She is a full-time government and public safety reporter for Gannett.