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If you want to take a step up in the credit card world, it may be time to upgrade a credit card. This is a simple way to swap your credit card for one with more perks -- without having to apply for a new card.
An upgrade has its benefits, but there are also some notable drawbacks. Here's a complete look at how to upgrade a credit card and decide if it makes sense for you.
Upgrading a credit card is when you change your current credit card to a superior card in the card issuer's lineup. This typically means you get a new card with better benefits, a higher rewards rate, and a more expensive annual fee.
You could also upgrade a secured credit card, which requires a security deposit, to an unsecured credit card. If your card issuer lets you upgrade your secured card, then your security deposit will be refunded.
Card issuers will only let you upgrade a credit card to another card in the same product line. Let's say you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. You could upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which is a higher-end card in that line. But you couldn't upgrade to a Chase United Airlines credit card, because that would be jumping to a different product line.
The technical term for an upgrade is a product change, which covers both upgrades and downgrades. Downgrading a credit card is a move in the opposite direction, often done to save money on a card's annual fee.
The benefits of upgrading a credit card are:
The drawbacks of upgrading a credit card are:
When you're ready to upgrade a credit card, it boils down to two simple steps:
Your card issuer will then approve or deny the upgrade request. If the old and new credit cards are both aimed at consumers in the same credit score range, then you have a good chance of approval.
It may be more difficult if you're trying to upgrade to a card with stricter application requirements. The most common example would be upgrading from a secured to an unsecured card. Secured credit cards tend to be the easiest cards to get. If you previously only qualified for a secured card, you'll need improved credit and a solid payment history to progress to an unsecured card.
You should consider upgrading your credit card if you want to move up to a card in the same product line without a new credit card application. Just make sure you won't miss out on a high-value introductory offer.
Here are a few examples of when it's a good idea to upgrade a credit card:
If the credit card you want has a sign-up bonus, it's usually better to apply for it instead of upgrading. These bonuses offer so much value that you shouldn't pass them up. If there's no introductory offer you're interested in, then an upgrade is the better choice.
Yes, you can upgrade an existing credit card to a new one in the same product line. You can find out which credit cards are available as upgrade options by contacting the card issuer. When you upgrade a credit card, the new credit card you chose will replace your old card.
To upgrade a credit card, choose the new card you want and call your card issuer to request the upgrade. You should find out if you're approved on the call. If you are, you'll receive your new credit card in the mail within seven to 10 business days.
Upgrading a credit card won't affect your credit score as long as the card issuer doesn't perform a hard credit check. Most card issuers don't, in which case you can upgrade your credit card without any impact to your credit.
To see if your card issuer will perform a hard credit check to upgrade your card, you can contact them to ask. Even if they do, a hard credit check lowers most consumers' FICO® Scores by less than five points, so it won't be a big drop.
After you upgrade a credit card, your old credit card should continue to work. The card number usually doesn't change, so you could continue using the old card if you wanted.
The more secure decision, however, would be to destroy your old credit card. You can do this with a pair of scissors if it's a plastic credit card. If it's made of metal, the card issuer will handle the disposal process -- just ask for a prepaid envelope so that you can mail it back.
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