Are some issuers trigger-happy about closing inactive store cards?

Where you can talk about store credit cards, like gas station cards, department store cards, etc.
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CarefulBuilder14
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Are some issuers trigger-happy about closing inactive store cards?

Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Wed Nov 19, 2014 10:42 pm

Background:
Yesterday I picked up my first store card - a Brooks Brothers card from Synchrony (fka GECRB). It's the store-only edition (not the MasterCard). The appeal of the card is that it gives good discounts during sales, but it does have lot of restrictions on the savings and rewards.

I will usually go 5 or 6 months between swipes - but sometimes maybe a year or 15 months. I'll just use it when I need to.

Since it has no major payment network, it's not a card I can put a $5 charge on once a month.

Actual questions:
Does anyone know how long Synchrony will keep a store-only card open after its most recent use (assuming the purchases are paid off in full)?

Would it be different for a cobranded card on a major network, like the Brooks Bros MasterCard?

Do other store-only or cobranded cards from different issuers like CO's Best Buy or Barclaycard's LL Bean have a longer or shorter 'sock drawer life' (as in a shelf life for credit cards)?
Wallet: Prestige CSP SchwabPlat Freedom It Hyatt SallieMae AAPlat
SD: Arrival BrooksBros BCE ED IHG
Letting new accounts cool off since May
Really not sure what I'll add next or when


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CarefulBuilder14
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Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Thu Nov 20, 2014 12:39 am

As one other sign of how long this card will go between swipes, I just found that the Chase UR portal offers 7% cash back shopping at BB online. I'm assuming that's the same as 7% in UR points, but I'm not positive. I haven't used the Chase portal before, just the Discover one.

Either way, it beats what the Synchrony card offers, once the Synchrony is used a little each year to keep the birthday award cycle active.

So BB online purchases will mostly go through the Chase UR portal, with free shipping from one of my favorite Amex perks, ShopRunner. I won't even use the Synchrony BB card at BB's own website - just in the store, most of the time.
Wallet: Prestige CSP SchwabPlat Freedom It Hyatt SallieMae AAPlat
SD: Arrival BrooksBros BCE ED IHG
Letting new accounts cool off since May
Really not sure what I'll add next or when

cardcustomerservice
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Postby cardcustomerservice » Wed Mar 04, 2015 1:05 pm

I work for a bank who issues "retail private label" cards (not Synchrony but for privacy, I won't advise which one) and can advise you that I'm not sure what their policies are, but we are fairly quick to shut down inactive retail cards, even automative onces where you wouldn't normally purchase that many times a year. We will shut down a card after about a year/a little more than a year of inactivity. Sometimes letters are sent encouraging customers to shop to keep the card open, but other times no notification is even sent.
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Postby Vattené » Wed Mar 04, 2015 4:43 pm

I'll offer this as a data point FWIW (I didn't have any data points when you originally posted):
According to a notification from CK a little while ago, my American Eagle (Synchrony) account was closed. I got no notice from them and wouldn't otherwise know about it if not for CK, but it probably went AT LEAST 3 full years with no activity before being shut down.

This is all according to CK (the only information I have at my fingertips at the moment), but it was opened 5/16/11 and closed 2/6/15. Other accounts from Synchrony are JCP, Banana Republic, and Walmart. I'd venture even if I used the American Eagle more than once, it's most recent swipe was in 2011. The rest are all still open (unless I never got notice they were being closed AND CK hasn't picked up on it), although Banana Republic and Walmart do see some light use. I do make sure to use them at least once every several months to avoid their getting closed and because it's convenient enough to actually use them (unlike American Eagle, where even if I swiped it I wouldn't remember how to pay it). JCP isn't as old, but I believe I've only ever used it when I opened the account at checkout. If I ever purchase anything else from them, I really should make sure to use their card to pay.

Of course none of that is to suggest your mileage won't vary, but at least in my experience they have to remain dormant for a lot longer than a year.
-Vattené
FICO-8:
EX - 809 (11/16) | TU - 803 (11/16)
Primary Cards:
American Express EveryDay - $20,000 (10/14)
Discover it - $23,000 (2/14)
AU on Barclay Sallie Mae - $10,000 (8/15)
plus several store accounts of varying usefulness now

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Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Wed Mar 04, 2015 5:44 pm

I'll keep this in mind. I get a lot of special offers to use the card, but I just don't need more clothing right now. The Chase UR portal is only offering 5 total points per dollar now, so getting 25% off with Synchrony is worth it if I do need anything.

If they do close it down for less than a year's inactivity, though, then I probably won't reapply. It wouldn't be worth the lower AAoA and inquiry.

At the very least, I will probably end up using it every 11-ish months to maintain a 'harmonious cycle' of annual coupons.
Wallet: Prestige CSP SchwabPlat Freedom It Hyatt SallieMae AAPlat
SD: Arrival BrooksBros BCE ED IHG
Letting new accounts cool off since May
Really not sure what I'll add next or when

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Postby Battery111 » Wed Mar 04, 2015 5:50 pm

I'll say that I have a Sears card I haven't used in several years. About a year and a half ago they made it a MasterCard but I've yet to put a charge on it. There just really aren't any rewards for doing so. If they close it, oh well. If they decide to keep it open, great. It lives in my safe anyway.
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Postby Vattené » Thu Mar 05, 2015 11:51 am

CarefulBuilder14 wrote:I'll keep this in mind. I get a lot of special offers to use the card, but I just don't need more clothing right now. The Chase UR portal is only offering 5 total points per dollar now, so getting 25% off with Synchrony is worth it if I do need anything.

If they do close it down for less than a year's inactivity, though, then I probably won't reapply. It wouldn't be worth the lower AAoA and inquiry.

At the very least, I will probably end up using it every 11-ish months to maintain a 'harmonious cycle' of annual coupons.

I forget, did you mention why you got the store-only version instead of the MasterCard? Maybe you could see if they'll let you PC to a MasterCard just so you don't have to worry about putting a small charge on it once every few months. That is, if you're not too worried about monitoring another account that could be used anywhere if compromised.



[quotE=Battery111;76775]I'll say that I have a Sears card I haven't used in several years. About a year and a half ago they made it a MasterCard but I've yet to put a charge on it. There just really aren't any rewards for doing so. If they close it, oh well. If they decide to keep it open, great. It lives in my safe anyway.[/QUOTE]
That's been my attitude towards my builder store accounts. I just don't have much use for them now. I don't want them to get closed, but if it happens so be it. American Eagle was my oldest account, so it would have been nice to keep it open. However, at least it will stay on for 10 years anyway.
-Vattené
FICO-8:
EX - 809 (11/16) | TU - 803 (11/16)
Primary Cards:
American Express EveryDay - $20,000 (10/14)
Discover it - $23,000 (2/14)
AU on Barclay Sallie Mae - $10,000 (8/15)
plus several store accounts of varying usefulness now

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Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Thu Mar 05, 2015 3:49 pm

Vattené wrote:I forget, did you mention why you got the store-only version instead of the MasterCard? Maybe you could see if they'll let you PC to a MasterCard just so you don't have to worry about putting a small charge on it once every few months. That is, if you're not too worried about monitoring another account that could be used anywhere if compromised.


Synchrony only approved the store card and a $1,260 limit. My understanding is that the application is first reviewed for the MC, and if that isn't approved, then the application is reviewed a second time for the store card. So Synchrony did decline me for the MC but approved me in their 'second round decision' for the store card.

Since Synchrony had already turned me down once for both cards (one application in 2012 when I had no history), they have in a sense declined me for a total of three cards (2012 MC, 2012 Store, 2014 MC).

I was a little surprised at the $1,260 limit, since my other limits at the time were all between $2k and $6k and I had a 730 TU.

I could have earned better rewards with the MasterCard in the first two months of the account's history (but only slight better). Since Synchrony doesn't communicate with Mint, CreditKarma, or other sites like that, I'm happier with it as a store card.

I'd rather have the card closed due to inactivity than have to go through a fraud dispute with Synchrony.
Wallet: Prestige CSP SchwabPlat Freedom It Hyatt SallieMae AAPlat
SD: Arrival BrooksBros BCE ED IHG
Letting new accounts cool off since May
Really not sure what I'll add next or when

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Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Sun Mar 08, 2015 11:20 pm

http://ficoforums.myfico.com/t5/Credit-Cards/Synchrony-upgrade-store-card-to-Visa/td-p/3848722

This isn't specifically about Brooks Bros, but it is about the GE Gap/Banana Republic cards before the Synchrony spinoff.

Apparently, it is possible to 'upgrade' a store-only card to a Visa (or MC for other cards). However, it isn't a PC - it's just an invitation to apply for the other card. I don't know if you can keep the old account, too, but the Visa shows up as a completely new account which makes sticking with the old store card more appealing. If someone had a few Synchrony store cards, then the 'upgrade invitations' could really wreck a person's AAoA and trigger some needless inquiries.
Wallet: Prestige CSP SchwabPlat Freedom It Hyatt SallieMae AAPlat
SD: Arrival BrooksBros BCE ED IHG
Letting new accounts cool off since May
Really not sure what I'll add next or when

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Vattené
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Postby Vattené » Mon Mar 09, 2015 10:50 am

That almost sounds deceptive to me. I wonder if many people take those offers without fully realizing what they mean. It's more an advertisement to apply for another one of their products than anything else.

I got those special "offers" to upgrade my Walmart card to the Discover version all the time. I couldn't tell you the fine print, though, because I never paid them much attention (just wasn't interested since the rewards were absolutely terrible).
-Vattené
FICO-8:
EX - 809 (11/16) | TU - 803 (11/16)
Primary Cards:
American Express EveryDay - $20,000 (10/14)
Discover it - $23,000 (2/14)
AU on Barclay Sallie Mae - $10,000 (8/15)
plus several store accounts of varying usefulness now



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