Should I Activate New Credit Cards?

Tips to manage your credit score and debt ratios.

Q. I have a balance of about $10,800 on an American Express card that has a limit of $11,500. I also have three other accounts that I haven't used in a while, with a total credit limit of $6,800. When those cards expire and the issuers send me new ones, should I activate them or allow the accounts to expire?

Go ahead and activate your new credit cards. With that $10,800 balance, you are already using 59% of your total available credit of $18,300. That's too high a percentage. Scott Bilker, founder of, recommends that cardholders use no more than 50% -- and as little as 30% or less -- of their available credit, if possible. If you cancel the cards, your usage will shoot up to 94%, which will lower your credit score.

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Senior Reporter, Kiplinger's Personal Finance