Credit Card Not Activated/Unused: Here’s What Happens?

Many individuals apply for credit cards but later choose not to use them for different reasons. As a result, when the card arrives, they may wonder about the potential consequences of not activating it. This uncertainty leads to questions such as: What happens if I don’t activate my credit card or leave it inactive?

The consequences of not using your credit card may vary depending on the regulations of each bank. It is advised to carefully review the contract of your financial institution before deciding to store the received plastic in a drawer.

  • The credit card will be automatically activated after a specified period if the user has not done so manually.
  • Activation of the plastic for payment at a store without the requirement of registration.
  • Getting a statement of account with charges for maintenance
  • Creating a documentation of the user’s lack of activity in their Credit Bureau.

Card holder’s responsibility

Using a credit card responsibly can be a great financial tool. Once you have activated your card, it is recommended to use it regularly. The reason behind this is that regardless of whether you use it or not, you will still be charged for maintenance. This charge is an annual fee for simply possessing the card.

It is highly recommended to choose interest-free monthly installments when making a charge on your card. Numerous businesses provide this payment option. However, it is crucial to carefully calculate your expenses. Ideally, the monthly payment should not exceed 15% of your monthly income. This includes all charges that may accumulate from multiple purchases made simultaneously. Failure to make timely payments may result in additional fees for non-payment or delay. Excessive charges may also incur collection expenses.

Things to Think About

There are two factors to take into account:

(1) If you tend to be impulsive and struggle to resist spending money when you have it, it may be beneficial to put aside the idea of using a card until you have better control over this issue.

(2) On the other hand, if you are a responsible individual who knows how to manage your finances and exercise self-control, using a card can be advantageous as it allows you to avoid carrying cash. Additionally, you may also benefit from a point or reward system that is advantageous to you.

Additionally, there is the option to make certain purchases that can only be done with a card, particularly when shopping online. Maintaining a good credit score by making timely payments not only ensures access to these exclusive purchases but also opens up opportunities for other benefits, such as obtaining credit for significant purchases in the future.

The financial institution

Some banks may occasionally block or deactivate your card; if it has been inactive for a long time, as a security measure to prevent unauthorized charges. However, this can become problematic if you suddenly need to make a purchase and your card is declined. Keep in mind that financial institutions analyze your spending patterns to provide you with personalized offers. If you have no prior history and suddenly attempt to make a large purchase exceeding your credit limit, you will likely need to verify the transaction by contacting your bank. This situation can result in a delay for you.

Are there any consequences?

There are situations where there are no negative outcomes if you choose not to activate your card or leave it as an inactive credit card, even if you have signed a contract. By not using or activating the card, you are not required to make any monthly payments. In fact, you won’t have to pay any maintenance fees until the first month you start using it. For example, if you sign up for the card in January but only activate it in July, you will receive your account statement around August and make your first payment then.

If you refrain from making purchases, you will only be responsible for maintenance costs. Similarly, if you choose not to activate the card, there will be no payments to worry about. However, if a significant amount of time elapses and the card expires, it becomes irrelevant and loses its purchasing capability due to non-usage.

When you cease using your credit card, one of the primary outcomes you may notice is that certain banks might impose fees for lack of use. These charges are typical when the waiver of an annual fee is contingent on meeting a minimum expenditure or monthly activity requirement.

Should You Use Your Credit Card or Not?

Below are a few pointers to keep in mind when using your credit card.

  • Using credit cards to give the impression of wealth is deceptive. In reality, it only grants you the power to decrease your income whenever you choose.
  • Avoid using credit cards for non-essential purchases.
  • Avoid using them for making installments or purchasing items that you can afford to pay for in cash, even if it requires some extra effort.
  • Make an effort to settle your balance completely every month. Alternatively, ensure to make substantial payments to prevent your credit card balance from becoming unmanageable.

Take a moment to consider the scenario of losing your job yet still being responsible for paying off your credit card debt. Would it provide any benefit to you? Would you feel liberated from obligations or regretful for misusing a potentially helpful resource? For some individuals, it may be wise to keep their credit cards inactive for a period of time. However, for others, maintaining an active account can significantly enhance their credit rating.

Not Experiencing Something

As previously mentioned, not using a credit card means you will forego distinct advantages and incentives. It’s important to note that credit cards serve a variety of purposes, including providing exclusive benefits that cash payments cannot offer, such as cashback, reward points, digital currency, coupons, and promotions.

If you are not planning to use your credit card frequently, it is advisable to avoid keeping it inactive for an extended period. It would be wise to cancel your card or switch to an annuity-free or basic plastic to avoid paying any additional charges.

In conclusion

Just because a credit card is inactive doesn’t mean the account is closed and can be ignored. Entities typically impose management and maintenance fees on inactive cards.

There exist two categories of outcomes

(a) If you have received a card but have not activated it yet, it will not serve any purpose or require any payments. Similarly, the card will expire when its validity period ends, and it may not be renewed unless requested.

(b) Alternatively, if you have enabled it but are not utilizing it, there is a chance that you may incur maintenance expenses. The specifics of your agreement will determine whether or not this applies.

Hence, it is important to carefully review the details.


Hi, I am Nikesh Mehta, owner and writer of this site. I’m an analytics professional and also love writing on finance and related industry. I’ve done online course in Financial Markets and Investment Strategy from Indian School of Business. I can be reached at [email protected].

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