My Wife and I Are Retired With $28,000 in Credit Card Debt. – Dale


“Dear Steve,

My wife and I are both retired. Our ages are 68. We find ourselves $28,000 in credit card debt. with a car payment and a motgage. Six of the credit cards are from Capital One. They are changing the rates to 19.99% on all of the accounts. We have some as low as 7.99% and 11 and 12%.

We have a choice to either keep the accounts open and pay the higher APR or “close” the accounts and pay off at their current APR.

When they say close the accounts, does that go to the credit bureaus then, or when we actually get them paid off. My FICO score is @720 and my wifes is @660. I don’t want to mess my score up, but at our age, do I care? Our other creditors are not doing that “yet”.


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Dear Dale,

It certainly is a Catch-22 problem. On one hand, if these cards are your oldest, you still use them, and pay them on time, then the closing of these cards could hurt your credit score a bit. But that being said, closing the cards and actually paying off the balance would be better for your financial life overall.

Far too often people make decisions about what they will or won’t do based on how it impacts their credit score. We can’t lose site of the fact that a high credit score is not an indication that you are making really smart financial moves. The credit score is designed to allow creditors to spot customers who will make them the most money at the lowest risk.

What you might want to do is get a copy of your consolidated credit report and figure out which of your bushel of Capital One cards you’ve had open the longest. If you keep that one open and pay it off as soon as possible, you could close the rest of them with less impact to your credit score.

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While your wife does not have a horrible score, it will be interesting for you to order the credit score option with your credit report so we can figure out why her score is low.

After you get a copy of your consolidated credit report, use the link, it is the same consolidated credit report that I use and love, I’d be most appreciative if you would come back and give us an update in the comments section to this question at

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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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