Appealing credit card offers may arrive in the mail frequently, and it’s not unusual to proceed with an application without thinking it through completely. If you get approved for a credit card, but then change your mind, you can often back up and undo the new account without doing harm to your credit.

Don’t Activate It

Your new credit card probably has an activation sticker on it that instructs you to call the credit card issuer to activate the account. Don't activate a credit card account that you change your mind about. Not activating the card should keep the cancellation process comparatively simple.

Possible Fees

Closing the new credit card might have a small hitch to resolve: nonrefundable account initiation fees. Read the small print of your account documentation that came with the credit card to learn whether your new credit card has fees charged to the account just for opening it.

Call Immediately

Even though you haven’t activated the credit card, you still need to call the credit card company to close the new account. Tell the service representative that you want to close the account immediately without ever activating the card. Ask about account initiation fees, if applicable, to see about having them waived because you never activated the card. If you can’t get the fee waived, you'll need to pay it before you cancel the credit card. Request written documentation of the cancellation and any fee waiving from the credit card issuer.

Following Up

Write a letter that reiterates your telephone conversation. Send it to the credit card company via certified mail with a return receipt requested. Check account statements you get from the credit card company to make sure they reflect the account closure. Check your credit report after about two months to see how the credit bureaus reported the credit card account. When you decided to apply for the credit card, part of the approval process involved the credit card company submitting a hard credit inquiry of your credit report to the credit bureaus. This hard inquiry typically lowers your credit score by a few points and it will stay on your report for two years. Optimally, the final account notation should show “closed at consumer request.” If the account is still open, check your report again in another month or two to make sure the notation updates correctly. Follow up with the credit card issuer and the credit bureau if you still find the notation on your credit report after this time.