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How to check if a credit card is active

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    If you've recently gotten a new card or found one you haven't used in a while, you may be wondering how to check if a credit card is active. There are a few ways to do this, and a couple of reasons why a formerly active card may now be deactivated.

    What is an active credit card?

    In simplest terms, an active credit card is one that can be used to successfully complete transactions. When you receive a new card in the mail, you'll likely find that it's inactive. This is because the card issuer wants to confirm that the right person received the card in the mail through the activation process.

    There are generally two ways to activate a credit card: over the phone or online.

    • By phone: A new card will likely have a sticker on it with a phone number to call in order to activate your card. Oftentimes you'll have to follow automated voice prompts to complete the activation.
    • Online: The sticker on your card may also include a website link to activate your card. From there, you'll be asked to follow instructions to verify your identity and activate your card.

    Once you know how to activate a credit card, you may want to know how to check and make sure a card is active.

    How do I know if my credit card is activated?

    There are a few easy ways to check if a credit card is active.

    • Call customer service: You can call the phone number on the back of your credit card to reach customer service. You'll be able to check the status of your card and, if it is deactivated, you can ask about reactivation.
    • Make a purchase: Another way to check if a card is active is to try and use it to make a purchase. If your card is declined, that may mean it's not active. However, a declined credit card can also mean other things, such as you've reached your credit limit, or your card has expired.
    • Check your credit report: Your credit report may also provide insight into whether a card is active or not. Credit card issuers generally report to the credit bureaus once a month, so if it’s been inactive for at least that long, your report should reflect that. You can also check your credit score and credit report for free when you enroll in Chase Credit Journey®.

    Reasons why a card would deactivate

    If you find a previously active card is now inactive, you may be able to reactivate it by calling your issuer. However, it depends on why the card was deactivated in the first place.

    • Default: If you stop making payments toward your balance, you may find that your card issuer has deactivated your card. This is to prevent you from borrowing any more money before paying back what you already owe. To avoid this, make sure you're continually making at least the minimum payments on any remaining balance.
    • Inactivity: If you haven't used your card in a while, the issuer may choose to close the account. To avoid this, try to use your card regularly, even if it's just for a small purchase once a month or so.
    • Changes in credit score or card terms: Issuers can choose to close a card for a variety of reasons. This may include a significant drop in your credit score, a change in the card's original terms or the phasing out of that particular credit card.

    Depending on the reason your account was deactivated, you may be able to call and ask the issuer to reactivate it.

    In summary

    It's useful for credit card holders to know how to check if a credit card is active, and what to do if they need to activate it. If your card is inactive simply because it's new, activating it is usually a fairly quick process. If it was deactivated by the issuer, however, there may be more variables at play that could make reactivating an old card potentially more difficult.

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