Once you’ve been getting credit cards for different sign-up bonuses and benefits for long enough, eventually one of the cards you have will be discontinued. Once the bank stops accepting new applications, you’re in credit card limbo. Most of the time, banks will allow you to keep the cards open with the same benefits as before. This can be for months, years, or even decades after the card is initially ended.
The most common reason a card is discontinued is that the bank is refreshing a product and decides to relaunch the card with a new name and new benefits. However, there are sometimes when a bank just decides that the card is no longer a good fit for their portfolio. Another reason is contractual, such as when AMEX lost the Costco contract or when Citi’s Hilton agreement ended. In these instances, you’re not able to keep the old product and will either be offered a different card from the old bank or the equivalent card from the new bank.
Back to discontinued, yet still active, cards. Should you keep them? What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing so?
I have a collection of cards in my drawer no longer available for new signups. They’re not ones I use all the time, or hardly at all, but I have reasons why I haven’t canceled them yet.
IHG Rewards Club Select
Oh, the IHG Rewards Club Select. I’m going to keep this card as long as Chase will let me. I’ve already given a full review of the card, but as a reminder, for the card’s $49 annual fee you get several benefits including automatic Platinum status, 10% rebate on award stays and a free night certificate (now good at hotels costing up to and including 40,000 points per night).
I could upgrade to the IHG Rewards Club Preferred, but that card has an $89 annual fee (increasing to $99 in 2023) and provides a fourth night free on award stays and the same free night certificate. Instead, both of us applied for that card and now have both since the benefits stack (Book a four-night award stay, get the 4th night free and a 10% rebate).
American Express Marriott Bonvoy Card
This is all that remains of the SPG Amex. While it’s taking up an AMEX space in my wallet, there are several reasons I’m keeping this card. For the $95 annual fee, I get a free night certificate to use at any Marriott Bonvoy property costing up to 35,000 points, This can come in handy when you need a single night stay at a hotel that otherwise would cost over $200.
In addition, having a personal Marriott co-brand card provides 15 nights of credit towards status. This helped us keep Marriott Platinum status through 2022.
We also have a personal Marriott card from Chase and if we’re going to get rid of one card, that’s the one we’re ditching.
Barclays American Airlines Aviator Red Card
I know the Barclays Aviator Red card isn’t “technically” a discontinued card since you can still apply for it. However, the version I have isn’t one you can reapply for today.
This card was originally the US Airways Mastercard. When American merged with US Airways, the card was rebranded as the Aviator Red.
The card provides benefits like the first checked bag for free. We have plenty of American points and no use to redeem them, but we also fly American a bit (even if they don’t let us bring our rollaboard bag without a fight, more than once), so the free bag perk comes in handy.
Alas, American did away with the 10,000-mile bonus I used to get with my yearly renewal. Without that extra perk, there’s not a great reason to keep this card anymore. We ended up canceling it with an automated call to Barclays and picked up a different American Airlines co-brand card issued by Citi.
American Express Optima Platinum Card
See that Member since 1992? That’s the main reason I keep this card. For those who remember, the Optima card was American Express’s first dabble into the credit card market, as they previously only issued charge cards (to learn the difference, check out this article). Since I had a Green Amex card, they offered this card to me.
It does earn membership rewards points at one point per dollar spent. For a while, it was worthwhile to keep because I was able to sign up for AMEX offers with this card (until AMEX shut down adding offers to multiple cards). It occasionally will get offers targeted to this card that I don’t see on my AMEX co-brand cards, so it does have some value. For now, the only other reasons I keep it are because the long account history helps my credit rating, and I’m also able to transfer some of my credit lines to this card if I’m looking to cancel one of my other AMEX cards. Eventually, it will go away, but for now, I keep it for sentimental reasons.
Four examples and four different reasons to keep a discontinued credit card. You could categorize the reasons as follows:
- Benefits not provided by the replacement card
- The negative impact of applying for a new card
- Length of account history (negative credit score impact if closed)
- Sentimental reasons (not really a good reason to keep a card)
Just like all my other cards, I still review these cards once a year to see if they still fit into my card portfolio. I have no reason to cancel the no-annual-fee card, but the IHG and Marriott cards need to earn their keep, or they’ll end up meeting the shredder like the Aviator card.
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