Ask Clark: The Rewards Changed Before I Got My New Credit Card. Should I Send It Back?

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Welcome to Ask Clark, a column designed to answer your financial questions by money expert Clark Howard.

They Changed the Rewards on This New Credit Card I Just Got. Should I Activate It or Not?

Melissa from North Carolina asks: “I researched different credit cards and found what seemed like the best one for me. I applied and was approved. When I got the card in the mail, the list of rewards was different from what was listed on their website at the time of my approval.

“I have not yet activated the card so I want to know, what happens if I don’t activate it? Can I send it back to them? And in either of these situations — sending it back or just not activating it — what does it do to my credit score?”

Clark’s Take on Whether to Activate a New Credit Card When the Rewards Have Changed

Clark says: “What I would do first is, I would call them and see if maybe they sent you the wrong card for the offer that you had applied for.”

“If the card has no annual fee, keep it because you’ve already had the inquiry — it will actually over time raise your score by having more available credit — and use it occasionally just so you keep it active in your credit mix.”

“It is really underhanded to make an offer to somebody with a series of benefits, then by the time you get the card, say ‘Oh no, we don’t offer any of those things.’ That’s why I’d make the phone call to see if maybe they made a mistake on their end instead of just trying to bait and switch you.”

Learn more about Clark’s credit card tips here.

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