Upgrading and Downgrading Credit Cards

You may not even realize it, but you actually are not stuck with the credit card(s) that you currently have. Depending on the card you hold, you may be able to upgrade/downgrade the card to something that’s more useful, or more economical for you. 

Why Upgrading or downgrading Cards May Be Worth It

The two biggest reasons for wanting to change the card you have, or product changing are that it doesn’t make economical sense to hold a card with a (high) annual fee, or that you could earn more by upgrading to a better reward system. While each credit card company has rules on which cards can be product changed, the general consensus is that you can product change cards that are in the same “family”. For Chase, that means any core Chase cards, for American Express that means charge cards can interchange, and cards with the same sort of title can change into each other (Everyday to Everyday Preferred). For Citi this means cards that earn ThankYou points, or cards from the same company (AA cards). 

There is one other reason that may be less obvious, but that has to do with credit card sign up restrictions. The most notable of sign up restrictions would be Chase’s infamous 5/24 rule. If you are over 5/24, but wanted to swap to a different card, the product change would not count against you. The downside of that would be that you would forgo the sign up bonus. 

Restrictions on Product Changing

When it comes time to upgrade or downgrade, there is one restriction that should be mentioned; that would be the Card Act of 2009. After the financial crash, Congress passed a bill that made it illegal for credit card issuers to charge a higher annual fee on a card within the first year. This means if you sign up for a card, you cannot product change to a card that has a higher annual fee for the first year.

There is one other restriction, and that has to do with some credit cards having a minimum limit. For example, if you had a Chase Freedom card with a $7,000 credit limit, and you were interested in a Chase Sapphire Reserve, you actually could not product change, as that card has a $10,000 credit limit minimum. Double check the card you want to change to to see if it has any sort of credit limit restriction.

The Actual Process of Product Changing

Outside of that restriction, if you are interested in upgrading, check to see if there is any sort of offer for upgrading your card first. American Express is good for this kind of thing, basically giving you a sign up bonus if you would be willing to pay a higher annual fee with the better card. If there are no offers in your online account, or if you are looking to downgrade a card, then you can do one of two things. You can either request the product change online or over the phone. Assuming you are eligible for the change, it should be a quick and easy transition.

The new card will arrive in the mail, typically within 7-10 days. Depending on the issuer, it may have the same credit card number, which means you can use the old card while you wait.  

Final Thoughts

There are many reasons why you may want to product change a credit card. The annual fee may be too high, you’re not getting value from the card, or you want more from the card you have, and you know that product changing could get you a card you’ll actually use. Whatever the reason, before applying for the change, make sure that you are actually eligible! If you are, it should be a quick and painless request. As a bonus, check to see if you are eligible for an upgrade bonus!

Have you product changed a credit card? Which was your best one? Let us know down in the comment section below. 

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