Millions of credit cards go unused

23 July 2009 / by Andy Davies

Millions of credit card holders are clinging on to their unused cards instead of closing their account, research has found.

Figures released by show that more than 16 million people have on average 2.3 credit cards they no longer use, which means there is an estimated 38 million credit cards in the UK that are no longer in use.

These unused cards have a total credit of around £200billiion with many people deciding to cling on to their cards in case they are needed in the future.

With unemployment rates in the last 12 months exceeding two million, credit card rejections have risen to over three million, so many people are choosing to hold on to their existing cards.

However, what seems a smart move could perhaps be damaging to an individual’s credit rating.

Commenting on the research, Louise Bond, personal finance expert at, said: “Overall it seems people are bombarded with conflicting opinions as to whether or not they should close credit card accounts that they no longer use.

“In times of such financial turbulence, it's hardly surprising that people don't want to let go of what they consider to be a financial lifeline.

“There are several issues to consider as credit checks are influenced by the amount of credit available to spend,” she adds, “So in effect, this lifeline could become a financial bottle neck to the next best deal.”  

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