Credit card upgrades are a great way to make the most out of your existing account, without having to apply for a new one. These are the rules.
While credit cards make it easier to spend, they may not be the right card for you. You can request an upgrade from the credit card company if you are unhappy with your card’s benefits and features, or if you have outgrown it.
You can upgrade a credit card by trading one card for another within the same company. Instead of opening a new account, you will receive a new card to replace the one that is currently open.
In 2022, 27% of American consumers applied for a new credit card, and 11% asked for an increase in credit limits. If you want to unlock more features and skip the credit check, upgrading could be the solution.
It might be a good idea to upgrade your credit cards
You might want to request a credit card upgrade for the following reasons:
- You are looking for additional benefits that will justify the annual fee of your card.
- You may wish to change from one reward structure to the next (e.g., earning points vs. cash back or miles).
- You would like to have better credit cards perks such as travel benefits and a 0% introductory rate on purchases
- You are hoping to obtain a lower APR by using a different card.
- You can get a new credit card without affecting your credit.
If you have to pay an annual fee for benefits or features that you don’t use, you can also downgrade your credit cards. You might consider downgrading rather than canceling your credit card, as closing a credit account can damage your credit score.
It’s important to weigh the reasons you want to upgrade your credit card. You also need to consider whether or not your credit card company will agree. These factors can help you when you request a credit card upgrade:
- History of payments – A solid payment history that includes no missed or late payments can prove to your credit card issuer that you are responsible.
- Account age – Credit card companies value loyalty and an older account can help you unlock more benefits with an upgraded credit card.
- Credit habits – Your credit card company might not conduct a hard credit check in order to approve you for a credit upgrade. It may however review your account history to determine how much you spend on your card each month, what rewards you have earned, and whether or not you tend to pay more than you are able to.
To see if there are any negative items on your credit report, you can pull a copy. If you don’t need to do a hard credit check, it may not be necessary.
There are limitations to upgrading your credit cards
Although upgrading to a new card can help you unlock more value it’s not always the best solution. One, it is possible that your credit card company won’t grant you an upgrade, regardless of how loyal you are.
Your credit card company may offer upgrades. This could limit the cards that you can upgrade from the ones you already have. You may be limited to a certain category of cards that offer similar benefits or features.
These are the rules to follow when upgrading credit cards:
- Credit card companies do not have to offer upgrades.
- Network jumping, which is the act of moving from Visa to Discover even though your credit card company offers both cards, is often forbidden.
- You may lose your introductory bonus if you upgrade.
- The credit limit on the new card might not be the same as that for the old card.
It is important to inquire about what happens to rewards that you have not yet redeemed when upgrading your rewards credit card. If you move from an airline miles card into a cash-back credit card, how will your miles be transferred to cash back, or if they disappear completely?
You can save money by redeeming any rewards that you don’t use before you request an upgrade. To ensure that your cash-back, points, miles, or miles go as far as possible, it’s a smart idea to compare the values of different redemption options.
How to upgrade your credit cards
Consider your options when upgrading to a credit card.
You may not have to upgrade your card in order to increase your credit limit. An upgrade may be required if you want to receive better travel rewards and perks like lounge access or TSA PreCheck benefits.
You will need to contact your bank once you are ready to upgrade. The card’s back should have the customer service number. This is how you can contact various card issuers and request an upgrade.
|Card issuer||Call||Request online|
|American Express||1-800-528-4800||American Express website|
|Bank of America||1-800-732-9194||Bank of America website|
|Capital One||1-800-227-4825||Capital One website|
|Chase||1-800-432-3117||Chase Bank website|
|U.S. Bank||1-800-285-8585||U.S. U.S. Bank Website|
|Wells Fargo||1-800-642-4720||Wells Fargo website|
Be prepared to present a compelling case to the credit card company for an upgrade. Be sure to inquire if upgrading will affect credit scores or impact any rewards that you have earned.
After upgrading, make changes to your credit card account
If your request for an upgrade is accepted by the card issuer, it will issue you a new credit line. Once you receive the card, activate it so that you can use it.
For the new card, the account and card numbers must be identical. Double-check your card number before you use it to pay automatic bills. You will need to update the payments to reflect your new card number if it isn’t. You may also need to change the security code and expiration date to reflect the new card.
You should also be on the lookout for other card updates:
- Credit limits can be higher or lower
- Modifications to your payment due dates
- Modifications to your reward structure or rewards balance
Because the account isn’t changing, only the card, and your old balance will be carried over. If there is no credit check, upgrading shouldn’t have any impact on your credit score. If your credit limit changes, however, credit scores may be affected.
Credit utilization, which is the amount of credit you use to pay back your creditors, is a key factor in credit scoring. Your score could be affected if you have a lower credit limit and the same balance when you upgrade. However, upgrading could improve your score if your credit limit is increased but your balance does not change.
What if your credit card was not upgraded?
You might consider applying for a different card if you are unable to get an upgrade. Consider opening a new card with your current issuer, or another one. When making your decision, keep in mind the pros as well as cons.
- You could upgrade your rewards or receive other benefits by getting a new card.
- An introductory reward bonus may be available to you.
- You might be able to get a new card that offers lower APRs or lower fees.
- If your spending habits have changed, it may be easier to change to a new reward structure.
- A hard credit check is required before applying for a credit card.
- A new card issued by the same issuer may not offer an introductory reward bonus.
It’s important to think about what you will do with your existing cards when applying for a credit card.
Closing credit card accounts can reduce credit utilization and decrease credit age. This could lead to credit score reductions. It is a good idea to keep your old accounts open, even if you are looking to open a credit card account. By making a small purchase once a month and then paying it off, you can keep your old accounts active.
It is a good idea to limit the number of cards you apply for, as each inquiry can reduce your credit score. Compare credit card offers to find the one that suits you best.