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Over the weekend I received an e-mail from a reader asking about the effects of closing an old credit card on your credit score. The short answer is that the length of your credit history is an key factor in determining your credit score, so closing old accounts can hurt your credit score.
Anyway, all of this got me to thinking about the ages of our credit card accounts and, more specifically, how long we’ve had our oldest card. As it turns out, our oldest (current) credit card accounts are our Amex Blue Cash (my current top pick as the best cash back reward credit card) and our Chase Freedom cards.
We actually opened both of these accounts back in 1997. The former began its life as an Amex Optima card, whereas the latter was some sort of Chase rewards card. While the Amex card didn’t have any sort of rewards associated with it, they did offer extended warranty protection. I eventually enrolled in the Amex points-based Membership Rewards program, but we never used the card very heavily — just for major transactions where we wanted the additional warranty protection. Most of our charging was done on the Chase card.
Last fall, I finally made the decision to convert our Amex account to a Blue Cash rewards card, and we haven’t looked back since. The Chase account has been through several iterations, most recently having been converted to the Chase Freedom rewards card.
With that as a backdrop, I thought it would be fun to run a poll about the age of your oldest current credit card account. Those Amex and Chase cards of ours has been kicking around for eleven long years — since just after my wife and I got married, and shortly before our oldest son was born.
If you’re not sure how old your accounts are, just whip out your cards. Many of them have a “Member Since” date printed on them. And if, like our Blue Cash card, they don’t have this info printed on them, you can usually login and check it out online.