When you receive a new credit card, it usually comes with instructions to activate it before you can start using it. But what happens if you never activate a credit card? Does it expire? Can it be used by someone else? In this article, we will delve into the consequences of not activating a credit card and explore the potential risks and implications.
What is credit card activation?
Before we discuss what happens if you don’t activate a credit card, let’s first understand what credit card activation entails. When you receive a new credit card, it is usually in a deactivated state for security reasons. Activation is the process of confirming your identity and acknowledging receipt of the card. This is typically done by calling a phone number provided by the credit card issuer or through an online activation portal.
Consequences of not activating a credit card
Delayed access to credit: One of the immediate consequences of not activating a credit card is that you won’t be able to use it for any purchases or transactions. Activation is necessary to unlock the card and make it functional. Until you activate the card, it remains inactive, and you won’t have access to the credit limit associated with it.
No liability for unauthorized transactions: While not activating a credit card may seem like a harmless act, it actually works in your favor when it comes to liability for unauthorized transactions. Since the card is inactive, it cannot be used by anyone else without your consent. Therefore, you are not responsible for any fraudulent charges that may occur during the period of inactivity.
No impact on credit score: Not activating a credit card does not have any direct impact on your credit score. Credit scores are primarily influenced by factors such as payment history, credit utilization, and length of credit history. However, it’s worth noting that having an unused credit card may affect your credit utilization ratio, which compares your credit card balances to your credit limits. If you have a high credit limit on the inactive card, it could potentially lower your overall credit utilization and positively impact your credit score.
Expiration of an inactive credit card
Expiration dates: Credit cards typically have an expiration date printed on them. This date represents the month and year until which the card is valid. However, the expiration date does not change based on whether the card has been activated or not. Even if you never activate a credit card, it will still expire according to the date mentioned on the card.
Renewal process: When your credit card approaches its expiration date, the credit card issuer will usually send you a new card automatically. This new card will need to be activated separately, just like the original card. If you choose not to activate the new card, it will remain inactive, and you will not have access to the credit associated with it.
In conclusion, not activating a credit card has several consequences. It delays your access to credit, but also protects you from liability for unauthorized transactions. Additionally, an inactive credit card does not directly impact your credit score. However, it’s important to note that an inactive credit card will still expire according to the date printed on it. If you receive a new card upon expiration, it will need to be activated separately.