In some cases, closing a Wells Fargo credit card account can do more harm than good. Here’s what to know before you take the plunge – including some other options that may be available to you.
Closing a credit card account can have hidden costs, so it’s important to know all the facts before you do. If you’re considering canceling your Wells Fargo credit card account, here’s what to consider first.
Should you close your Wells Fargo account?
Before closing your Wells Fargo credit card, know why you’re considering doing so in the first place. For example, are you tempted to spend more than you can afford to pay off by having the card in your wallet? If the answer is yes, then it may make sense for you to close the account. However, if you’re just not using it and want to close it so you have fewer accounts to think about, you may want to reconsider.
If there’s no annual fee (and currently Wells Fargo’s consumer credit cards all come with no annual fee) and you’re not tempted to overspend, closing the card may not be your best move. Why? Because having an open credit line on which you don’t carry a balance can actually help your credit score.
This is because your credit utilization ratio, which compares your credit card balances to your total available credit limit, makes up 30% of your FICO score. When you close a credit card account, it decreases your overall credit limit and increases the percentage of credit you’re using, which can lower your score. On the flip side, opening a new credit card would increase the amount of credit you have available to you and lower your utilization ratio, so long as your debt amount doesn’t change. As a result, this can bring your credit score up over time, once the impact of a hard inquiry wears off.
If your Wells Fargo credit card has a high credit limit, you may want to keep it open, since it will have an even greater impact on your credit utilization ratio (and, by extension, your credit score). And if you have only one or a few credit cards, or you’re relatively new to credit, closing one of them could increase the likelihood that your score will drop. That’s especially true if it’s your oldest account since getting rid of your oldest account will have the unwelcome side effect of lowering the average age of your accounts – another component of your credit score.
Options to consider instead of closing your credit card
If you want to close your Wells Fargo credit card because it creates a temptation for you to overspend, you could consider a product change, which is when the card issuer changes your existing account to a different card. When you switch from one card to another from the same credit card company, your current balance, available credit and accrued rewards points (if any) remain the same, but the terms of your card will change. Wells Fargo’s Go Far rewards are currently available on two consumer cards, so you don’t have a lot of options if you want a product change.
If you’re thinking of closing your credit card due to overspending, try to avoid carrying it with you so you’re less tempted to use it. Some people call this “sock drawer-ing.” They hide the card in the bottom of their sock drawer, where it remains out of view and less tempting to use. Others have even advocated literally freezing a card in a block of ice to prevent impulse purchases with it.
If you want to close it just to keep your accounts a bit tidier, consider tucking it away in a safe place and using it for a small purchase about once a year (to keep the account from closing due to inactivity) or putting a recurring autopayment on it, such as a streaming service payment. These options keep the credit card open to continue benefiting your credit score in the areas of credit limit and average account age even if it’s not your go-to in your wallet.
Before closing your Wells Fargo account
If you choose to close your Wells Fargo credit card account, consider making these moves first:
Ask to transfer your credit limit to another card
To preserve your credit limit (and its impact on your credit score), consider asking Wells Fargo if it can transfer your limit to a different Wells Fargo card. Your credit limit is how much credit you have available to use (this is different than your balance, which is how much credit you’re currently using). This move will help you maintain the total amount of your available credit, diminishing the negative effect that closing the card might have on your credit score.
Clear your balance
Next, make sure that your account has a zero balance. Pay off what you owe in full and in advance so that there’s enough time for the payment to post. Also, double-check that you don’t have any pending charges on your card at the time of closing.
It’s helpful to stop using your Wells Fargo card a few weeks before you plan to cancel it. Also, remember to change any automatic payments you have linked to the card.
You could also consider transferring your balance to a new credit card if you’re not able to make your payment in full before you cancel the account. Like most credit card companies, though, Wells Fargo will not allow you to transfer a balance between two of its accounts – you have to apply for a card from a different issuer that accepts balance transfers.
If your card is part of the Wells Fargo Go Far rewards program, don’t forget to redeem any unused points before you close your account. You don’t want to rack up those rewards points and then lose them.
Plot the effect on your credit score
Before closing your Wells Fargo account, you should try to determine the effect it will have on your credit score. As previously mentioned, closing a credit card could lower your score, so it wouldn’t be wise to do so if you’re planning to apply for another type of credit product in the near future, such as a car loan or mortgage. You might also want to hold off on closing the account if you’re expecting an upcoming credit check for other reasons, such as renting an apartment or applying for a new job.
Also, if you missed any payments on this account, remember that canceling it doesn’t mean your payment history falls off your credit report right away. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, late payments can stay on your credit report for up to seven years, even if you close the account that had the late payments.
How to close a Wells Fargo account
If you are ready to close your Wells Fargo credit card, you have a few ways to do so. Make sure to have your account information and billing address ready, and be prepared to provide a reason for canceling. The rationale does not have to be complicated, but the Wells Fargo representative will typically ask for one.
Close a Wells Fargo account online
To cancel your Wells Fargo account online, perform the following steps:
- Go to the Wells Fargo website.
- Log in to your account.
- Find the “Contact Us” icon at the bottom of the page.
- Under “Credit Card,” click on “Chat with us” to initiate a chat with a customer service representative.
- Once connected, tell them you want to cancel your credit card.
Over the phone
If you prefer to speak to someone directly, call the number on the back of your card and follow the prompts to be connected with a representative. If you don’t have your card on hand, call customer service at 1-800-642-4720. Be sure to write down the name of the representative who helps you, just in case you need to reference it later.
Accounts can also be closed in person by making an appointment at a Wells Fargo branch.
Closing a credit card is an important financial decision. And while cardholders might have legitimate reasons to cancel an account, you also have alternative options to consider if you’re concerned about the potential effect on your credit score. If you do decide to close your Wells Fargo account, make sure to look out for written confirmation of the account closure, which you should receive within two weeks.