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Retail card account opens at your first purchase

By  |  Published: May 2, 2015

Credit Wise
Credit Wise columnist Kevin Weeks
Kevin Weeks is the former president of the Financial Counseling Association of America. Weeks holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration, management information systems from Salem State University.

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Question for the CreditCards.com expert Dear Credit Wise,
Hi Mr. Weeks, I recently got an American Eagle credit card that I signed up for while making an in-store purchase for the discount. I believe they charged my purchase to the credit card, but now after looking at the information they sent me with the card and not being impressed I don't want it. I have yet to authorize the card and was wondering if I will receive a bill for my initial purchase? And what will happen if I don't authorize the card? Thank you for your time! -- Keegan

Answer for the CreditCards.com expert Dear Keegan,
Many retailers offer deals to get new customers to sign up for their credit card like the one you were offered. Getting 10 or 20 percent off your purchase right away seems like a no-brainer, which is what the store is counting on. However, store cards are seldom a good deal once the details are fully examined, which you seem to have discovered.

My guess is that the interest rate attached to this card is fairly high and that could be one reason you have changed your mind. I applaud you for taking the time to examine the information you were sent and making the decision not to move forward.

However, if you did not pay any money to the store that day but came home with merchandise, your account has already been charged even though you have not called to authorize the card. This means that you owe the store for the purchase you made. It will depend on the closing date for the card when you will receive a bill. Be on the lookout for that statement and make plans now to pay the balance in full. If you pay the full balance before the due date, you should not have to pay any interest on this purchase.

I know that you think that because you have not called to authorize the card you don't have an open account with the creditor. While it is true that credit cards require authorization to use the card, this does not mean that you don't already have an account with the creditor. The purchase you made is the proof. If you don't call to cancel the card, your account will likely remain open.

Once you have your billing statement, call the 800 number on that statement. It may take some time, but wait on the line until you can speak with a person (not a machine). Tell this person that you want to close the account and be sure to say that the card is being closed at your (the cardholder's) request. This notation will look better on your credit report, because whether you want the card or not, it is now part of your credit file. A card closed at your request looks better to potential lenders than a card closed at the creditor's request.

Be wise with your credit!

See related: Retail card survey: Compare offers

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Updated: 09-26-2017

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