Looking to clean out your wallet or purse? You may see some extra credit cards that are cluttering things up, but you may want to think twice before canceling those cards.

It’s easy to get roped into applying for credit cards. Big retailers may offer you one at the till in order to get a discount or you may be enticed to get one because it earns you travel points. However, if you feel you have more than you now want, you need a strategy to off-load them.

Canceling a credit card and cutting it up can feel liberating but you could be throwing away valuable years you spent paying off the debt. Consumer Reports Money Editor Nikhil Hutheesing advises caution especially if you’re looking to refinance.

“Because one of the things that bankers look for is your credit utilization ratio,” she pointed out.

Credit utilization is the balance between what you owe, your cards and the amount of credit you have available. Lenders like that ratio to be less than 30 per cent. If you cancel a card, you lose available credit.

“You utilization ratio goes up and you’re not as attractive a candidate,” explained Hutheesing.

If you are one of those people who don’t like to manage a lot of cards and only have one, you should keep it because lenders look for credit diversity. That means having different type of credit like auto loans, mortgages and revolving credit such as credit cards.

And remember time is on your side. Even a card you haven’t used in a long time has value. A longer credit history boosts your credit score. Canceling a card can lower your score.

If you feel strongly about giving one up, Hutheesing recommends you axe the one you got most recently.

Other cards to consider canceling would be those that charge you an annual fee. If you are not getting the value of that benefit offered then it’s a waste of money.

No fees, no worry.

“Your best bet with a credit card is to stick it in your dresser drawer and just put it away if you’re not going to use it,” Hutheesing added.

Or better yet, lock up unused? credit cards where they can’t be stolen and periodically check the account balances ensure they haven’t been compromised or hacked.

And remember there’s no point in having credit cards to improve your credit worthiness, if you’re not staying on top of the balance or paying them off on time.