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If your credit card no longer feels like the best fit, canceling may not be your only option. Downgrading to another credit card allows you to replace a card you already have with another one from the same issuer, often with the aim of getting a card with a lower annual fee.
Chase, which issues credit cards for a range of credit scores, allows cardholders to downgrade a credit card, although there are some restrictions. If you’re eligible, downgrading your Chase card should be a pretty straightforward process.
How to downgrade a Chase card
Current Chase cardholders must call Chase directly so that an advisor can process the downgrade request over the phone. Chase’s credit card customer service number is 800-432-3117.
Chase's website and app does offer a secure messaging feature, which allows logged-in cardholders to ask questions and make some requests, but downgrade requests cannot be processed this way.
» MORE: Best Chase credit cards
A Chase business credit card cannot be downgraded to a consumer card, and vice versa.
Benefits to downgrading a Chase card
“Downgrading” might sound like you’re settling for less, but in the world of credit cards, getting a downgrade often results in a net gain. Among the benefits:
No hard pull on credit report: Downgrading puts another credit card in your wallet without having to submit to a hard pull on your credit report, potentially sparing you the temporary loss of a few points to your credit score.
Preserved credit history: Downgrading to another card means you get another card, but keep the previous card's credit history intact. If the card you’re looking to get rid of is one you’ve had for a long time, a downgrade may be preferable to canceling the card, as average age of credit accounts is a factor in determining one’s credit score.
Reduced fees: You may lessen or get rid of an annual fee altogether by downgrading a Chase card. Say you currently have Chase’s top-of-the-line travel card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which has a $550 annual fee. Downgrading to the Chase Freedom Flex℠ with its $0 annual fee would be an easy way to cut that expense.
Rule workaround: Downgrading to a different card could be a workaround to Chase’s informal 5/24 rule. Chase generally won’t approve you for another credit card if you’ve applied for more than five credit cards across any issuer within a 24-month period. Say you’ve hit the five-card limit over the previous two years, but you want a new Chase credit card. It’s possible to get it by requesting a downgrade rather than submitting a new card application.
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is the only Chase Ultimate Rewards®-earning card that is a Mastercard, and therefore runs on a different payment network from the Visa cards in its “family.” Even though your credit line and history remain the same, downgrading to a card on a different payment network requires getting a new credit card number. That means you'll have to manually update the card information for any recurring bills or subscriptions you have set up on autopay.
Limitations on downgrading a Chase card
Consider these restrictions and caveats to Chase’s policy on downgrading a credit card:
You must stay in the “family”: You can only downgrade to a card that’s in the same card brand “family” as your current card. For example, a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card could be downgraded to the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, since both cards earn Ultimate Rewards®. A $250-annual fee United Quest℠ Card could be downgraded to a $0-annual fee United Gateway℠ Card. But a Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card cannot be changed to a Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card.
You won't earn a bonus: Obtaining a new card by downgrading makes you ineligible for the card’s sign-up bonus, which you could qualify for if you applied for that card as a new account. Chase sign-up bonuses include cash, gift cards and bonus points that can be redeemed through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Program.
You may not get a refund on the annual fee: When you downgrade from a card with an annual fee to one without, you may be eligible for at least a partial refund on the annual fee, but your timing must be right. Chase won’t issue a refund on the annual fee if you downgrade the card in the month before the annual fee is due. Say your current card’s annual fee is charged to your credit card on July 1, and you downgraded to another card in June. You will not receive a refund on the annual fee that you paid almost a year ago.
Even with some of these limitations, downgrading your Chase card can be a smart move if it results in a card that better suits your current lifestyle.