Q: You wrote that applying for a new credit card lowers a credit score about five points. How long does that loss in score last? Also, how does canceling a credit card affect a credit score? And how long does that change last?—J.K., Front Royal, Va.
A: Your score can be affected by any new credit issued and the number of recent inquiries on your report resulting from your applications for new credit. Every credit card you apply for will be considered an inquiry on your record. Inquiries remain there for 24 months and could affect your score for the first 12. If you have a lengthy credit history, such inquiries shouldn't affect your score much, if at all.
It's a common belief that you should never close the credit-card account you've held the longest. But credit bureaus usually leave closed accounts on your file for 10 years, so long-held cards will still be factored into your score after you ditch them.
If you've opened several credit accounts over the years, closing one shouldn't have a big impact unless it represents a significant portion of your available credit.
Learn more about credit scores.