I’ve had my share of credit cards over the years, and usually I try not to close an account unless there’s a really good reason for it. I know that having long-standing accounts can really improve my credit score, so generally that’s reason enough to keep a card, even though I rarely use it.

But years ago I ended up canceling a credit card I had made use quite frequently. Here’s why.

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The importance of good customer service

I’m the type of person who prides himself on being financially responsible. In fact, I never had a credit card balance in all the years that I held my cards. I have always been successful in charging expenses responsibly and paying my bills in full to avoid accruing interest charges.

I also have a strong history of being on time with my invoices. But a month, I encountered a catch.

Normally, I get an email notification from each of my credit cards letting me know when my bill is due. This, in turn, prompts me to log into my account and schedule each payment.

One month, I never received this email for the card in question. To this day, I don’t know why he never came. The credit card company insists it was sent, but it never reached my inbox (I even checked my spam folder, just in case).

Now you can probably see where it’s going. In the absence of this e-mail, I forgot to schedule my payment. So I got hit with late fees, and only once I got this notification and an overdue invoice did I realize what had happened.

At that time, I had been a cardholder for several years and had never been late on a payment. Well, that didn’t happen. The rep I spoke to insisted that I should have received this email and that she could not waive the late charge. I then asked to speak to his supervisor, who was also unhelpful.

Even though I had never been overdue and it was my first violation, and the account was not horribly past due (it was between 30 and 60 days), my credit card company did refused to budge. So from that point on, I refused to remain the card holder.

Lesson learned

Most of us don’t think of customer service when looking for new cards. Instead, we tend to focus on credit cards with the best cash back opportunities and the best rewards programs. But good customer service is also an important thing to look for.

The card I canceled after my frustrating customer service experience was a good card otherwise. I liked the rewards program and used the card regularly. But I wasn’t willing to stay on a card with a company that valued my business so little that they wouldn’t waive a single late fee. If you’ve had a bad experience with your credit card company’s customer service team, you may also want to consider closing your account. And that’s especially true if the cancellation won’t seriously damage your credit score and you can find a replacement credit card that offers great rewards.

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