I am curious as to why you say don’t cancel the cards? It seems to me if one doesn’t have the discipline to not the use cards, keeping them open is just an unnecessary temptation.
I've had a couple of them for 20+ years. My credit is pretty darn good.
Now to your answer. Your credit report is like a train moving down the tracks...each month, for each card, you want it to say current - payments made on time. If you cancel a card, you reduce your credit and after it is paid off, your train for that card stops. That is actually bad for your credit score. Showing that you are using credit and making all the payments on time, making more than the minimums, and that you have credit available that you aren't using is a good thing. If you lower the amount of credit you have (by canceling a card) you lower your score.
I have gold plated credit. I charge thousands each month to two cards. I pay the balances in full each month. I have other credit lines/cards at ridiculously low rates (0%, 3%, etc.) I transfer regularly. I have a huge amount of credit line on different cards. There is not a single late payment noted for 40 years. I am using credit all the time, refreshing it, paying it, charging it. But because I know exactly what I can afford to carryover as debt each month (at ridiculously low rates) and I pay my fixed expenses balances off each month, my report reads like a humming, thriving steam engine. Also the amount of credit in use is paltry against total income on the credit card side, a little more than paltry when adding mortgages. Still my installment debt to income and installment debt plus mortgage debt ratios are very very good.
I do not pay for credit, they must pay me in patronage point programs....which I gain $1000 - $1500 a year so I can get free airline tickets, free stuff from Amazon, cash, fun stuff at Cabelas.
Anybody can build up a good credit history and have low interests rates if they learn how to do it and they have the discipline to follow their budget.
My wife laughs when she hears me talking to a credit card company and I ask them seriously, how much are THEY going to pay me.....:)
In a modern economy, if your discipline level is so low that you HAVE to live by cash you need more than financial help. The Big Boo